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This is my WLS journey.

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Almost three months out - I've got my 3 month blood tests scheduled for next week, so hopefully that goes well. I feel great, so I think (fingers crossed) there won't be any surprises.

It's been a month now that I've been consistently exercising every day (skipped only one day this month). I got a Fitbit a month ago, and it's weirdly motivating to have it remind me to get my steps in and then see my accomplishments as I do. I'm spending the month at the beach (cold, windy, rainy beach in Oregon, not warm tropical beach, to give you the correct mental image), so I've been walking 5 miles on the beach each day. The sand makes it a pretty good workout. My body feels really good - lots stronger and more toned, and comfortably able to walk that far at a good pace. I've been listening to audiobooks and podcasts while I'm walking, and I'm in a beautiful place, so the time goes quickly. After a month of this, I can say that I feel really great about going for a walk every day, and I plan to keep this in my routine even when my life gets busier. I'm REALLY not busy right now, but I'm going to prioritize carving out time in my schedule for exercise. 

On that whole subject (the lack of busyness in my life), to recap, my husband and I quit the teaching jobs we hated last spring and have spent this year traveling around the US and doing some intensive thinking about our lives and what we want to do in the future. We came to the conclusion that we wanted to go abroad again to teach, which we have done before, so we started applying and got some interviews. We were offered jobs in Oman, which is a country we visited many times while we lived in the UAE (Dubai), since it's just across the border. It's a beautiful country and there's lots to do there. We have accepted, so we should be moving there at the end of the summer to get set up for the new school year. Lots of changes in store, but also a little bit back to our old lives that we had when we lived in that area before. Whew! What a relief to have plans, though. 

I ate out at a somewhat nice restaurant this week. I had about 1/2 a crab cake for an appetizer - they were pan fried, and didn't have much breading, so I risked it. It was delicious. Then I ordered the salmon as an entree. It came on a massive pile of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, but my taste buds have changed so much that garlic tastes terrible to me now. I ate a teeny tiny bite of potatoes and they were awful (my husband assures me that they were wonderful), and the vegetables looked garlicky too, so I didn't try them. The salmon was great (blackened with some sort of saffron sauce), and I was able to eat about half of the portion. The server didn't even give me a funny look when I asked for a box with so much food left. I had enough salmon for dinner the next day, and my husband got all the potatoes and vegetables for his dinner. It felt a little awkward but I think I can get used to eating out like this. The crab cake was apparently not a great idea, though, because it, um, went right through me in like an hour. Note to self: don't eat pan fried stuff. It seems obvious, but I thought I'd give it a shot. No harm, lesson learned. 

Last blog post, @Hotmamatime recommended I read a book called "Intuitive Eating" and that was a really good recommendation. I bought it and started reading right away. The authors (NUTs) theorize that the mere act of dieting messes with our minds so much that we cannot have a healthy relationship with food while having a diet mentality. We are driven to overeat by the diet voices in our heads, either starving ourselves until we crack and binge, or just bingeing in reaction to those voices. It has some great recommendations for steps to take to get rid of the diet mentality. If we can quiet those voices enough, we can access the "intuitive eater" inside ourselves that knows how to eat in a healthy and reasonable way, rather than using food as a comfort, escape, coping mechanism, etc.

The book is aimed at people who haven't recently had WLS, so some of the advice is a little off the mark for us, but overall I think I can incorporate a lot of what they have to say. I haven't gotten to the actual nutritional advice yet (that's at the end), but it seems like it's going to be stuck a bit in the 90s idea of lowfat low cholesterol everything, which I think there's enough evidence out there to at least call into question if not debunk. So, specific nutritional advice aside, and keeping in mind that I haven't actually read that chapter yet, I think there are a lot of really good ideas there to help me get that stupid diet voice in my head to shut up and let me have a healthy relationship to food and eating. 

If the voices in your head are full of noisy, abusive, negative self talk about eating, you might want to check it out. The writing is a little clunky, but self-help books are rarely pieces of excellent literature, so I think that's probably to be expected.

That's about it for me right now. It's a blue sky sunny day here at the beach, and that's a rare thing, so I'm going to sit out in the sun.


I'm having to do a lot of self-talk to try to calm down about the speed of my weight loss. I find my idiot diet brain worrying that it's not going to work, that I'm going slow, so I'll never reach my goal, that I'm doing something wrong, that I need to "try harder," that I'm going to fail, that I'm just that one person in a million that this doesn't work for. My rational brain can then inform myself that no, it's working, just a bit slowly, and I need to be patient. I'm doing everything right (600-800 calories per day, 65+ grams of protein, very low carb, 80+ oz of water, 3-5 miles of walking per day, all my vitamins, eating slowly, chewing well, etc, etc, etc.). 

I have to tell myself that my behavior is what I'm changing, and that I have no direct control over how my body responds to those behavioral changes - it will lose at the pace it will lose at. I'm stuck again (for a week now), and getting antsy, but I know it will change soon - that is, my rational brain knows. My idiot diet brain is freaking out. It's like arguing with an irrational toddler sometimes. 

"Maybe I'm not eating enough calories."

"Maybe I'm not eating enough carbs."

"Maybe I should try eating meat." (yuk, btw, not appealing to me)

"Maybe I need a cheat day. Some people swear by that."

"Maybe I need to exercise more."

"Maybe my metabolism is so messed up that I'll never reach my goal."

"Maybe I need to drink more shakes."

"Maybe I should try to eat all of my protein instead of using shakes."

"Maybe my scale is broken!"

It's like my idiot diet brain actually thinks that there is some sort of magical formula that will "work" and that anything else will not work. It's this weird magical thinking that leads sports teams to not shave until they win the championship or students to wear their lucky t-shirt on test day or whatever. 

I've been stuck for a week, which is just a blip on the timeline, for sure, but it feels like a lifetime.

I'm down 50 since pre-op (mid January).

I'm down 30 since surgery (Feb 14). 

It's working. I'm just being impatient. I'm looking at others' results and assuming my losses will come as quickly (they're not). But it IS working. 

Deep breaths. 


Update two days later: down a pound and a half this morning, so I guess I'm not broken or permanently stuck ;) I made up a very comprehensive spreadsheet and graph to track my weight loss, which clearly shows that I'm making progress. Good to look at when I'm feeling unsure.



It's been just over 10 weeks since surgery, so 15 weeks from the beginning of my pre-op diet, and I've lost 50 pounds from my high weight, and 30 pounds from my surgery weight. Hooray for me! I feel really happy about this, and I think I'm going to stop worrying about other people losing faster than me now. It's feeling more real that this is actually happening instead of being a possible hypothetical outcome.

So, how am I doing?
Great, actually. I have a bunch more energy than I did a few months ago. Although I have always loved hiking, it had become torture to haul myself up and down a trail, so I had stopped doing that. I wasn't even very happy just going for a walk - it felt like I was waddling rather than walking :( Now, I've got a Fitbit and I'm walking around 4-5 miles a day. I'm staying at the beach right now (waiting for another job offer to come in, should hear back this week or next), so I'm walking up and down a long beach, which means it's a pretty good workout when the sand is soft! 
I feel stronger and more comfortable. I feel like I can do things. Climbing up stairs is not the chore it was. I feel more comfortable when I'm sitting, standing, heck, even laying in bed. My feet hurt less. My back hurts less. I can breathe more easily. 
My body is getting smaller. My clothes are getting baggier. My boobs are getting smaller (thank goodness - I loathe them). I don't feel so hateful and embarrassed when I look in the mirror. There's just less of me. Yay!
My eating has kind of gotten onto a schedule, which makes things easier. I have between 600-800 calories per day. I can eat more if I eat cheese (lots of calories but goes down oh so easy), but am not trying to do that. I'm getting 70+ grams of protein per day. My day looks like this: 
Breakfast: 1/2 c greek yogurt + 1/4 c berries or crustless quiche thingies (Google Eggface egg bites if you want a recipe)
Midmorning snack: protein shake made with Fairlife milk (haven't pushed the lactose thing, I'm guessing I am still lactose intolerant, but don't want to find out the hard way). I use Syntrax Nectar shake powder. The vanilla tastes pretty good. The chocolate is OK. The strawberry kiwi tastes like jello, which is weird but kind of nice for a change. 
Lunch: 1/2 c cottage cheese or rolled up slice of cheese + tofurkey lunch meat (vegetarian fake meat) 
Afternoon snack: sometimes I have one, sometimes not - minestrone soup (one of the only things that tastes good to me), or 1/4 of an apple in thin slices, 1 oz of cheese, or a little can of V8 juice
Dinner: 3 oz of protein (veggie burger, Quorn fake chicken, tofu, shrimp, fish, or beans) plus 1 oz veggies (broccoli, sweet potatoes, cooked spinach). 
I've had a bit of salad, and it goes down OK, but I haven't really pursued it as a meal yet. I really love salad, so may do that soon. 
I'm drinking 80+ ounces of water per day. I'm not having to take little sips anymore - more like regular swallows, so it's easier to drink larger quantities. 
I have totally quit having any kind of crunchy snack (I could live on crunchy snacks) because I think that's a good behavior to say goodbye to. I may give raw almonds a shot at some point, but I tried a peanut the other day and it tasted so nasty and bitter I spit it out. Weird, I used to love peanuts.
So, my diet is looking pretty boring at the moment, but this is fine with me. Nothing really tastes good, so I don't really care. I'll get more creative later when I feel more moved to do so. Normally I really like to cook and am pretty adventurous, but I just haven't felt the call to do so. 
My pouch is feeling really good. I haven't had any dumping or even nausea - except once, last week. I was sitting and watching TV and suddenly a wave of nausea swept over me, hours after eating. I ran to the bathroom and dry heaved (but not too hard because the pouch is so small) but nothing was in there so nothing came up. I felt immediately better, like it had never happened. No problems eating. Some acid reflux, although I didn't suffer from that very often before surgery, and I take some Pepcid when that happens, usually at bedtime. 
Anyway, that's my 10 week check-in for anyone who's curious as to what it feels like to be at this stage. Can't wait to lose the next 50 pounds. 

...and this is a good thing. 

Pre-op, I read a lot of people's takes on "food funerals." I didn't feel prompted to have any of those, though, because by the time I made the commitment to do the surgery, I was ON FIRE to lose weight. I felt no regret about not having my old favorites while I was doing my pre-op diet, no deprivation, no sadness. It was like a switch had been flipped. From my lengthy history with dieting, I knew that this was 1) the golden zone for weight loss - a great mental attitude that would lead to some important big changes, and 2) the danger zone for overextending my dieting commitment: 100% perfect until burnout is not a long-term solution. But I went with it. I lost 19 pounds in 5 weeks. Woo!

Then, surgery came, and I completely lost my desire to eat. Anything. Ever. I am never hungry, I never crave anything, and I never like what I'm eating. Part of this is due to weird physiological changes after WLS (messing with the vagus nerve, changing the tongue's actual response to sweet and bitter tastes, changing hormonal responses to eating, etc), but part of it is also due (I think) to a really bad cold I got last winter...

I got a bad cold in November, several months pre-op. It was the kind where you have to stay in bed, or at least stay home on the couch for several days. I was staying with friends at the time, but they were also knocked out by this cold, so we just lay about on the sofa shot-gunning Netflix. We were all miserable. There were the normal symptoms (runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, headache, body aches, lethargy, etc, etc, etc). 

When I was all better (weeks later), I was feeling myself again, but I found that I just couldn't really drink a beer. It just didn't taste good - too bitter. Normally, I'm a microbrew kind of gal (I spent my formative drinking years in Seattle during the initial microbrew surge), and I LOVE bitter beer, but I just couldn't even drink half a pint of IPA. Then, I noticed that wine didn't taste good anymore. I really like wine! I know a little bit about it, and I love a nice glass or two of a nice, complex, heavy red wine. Suddenly, I couldn't taste the difference between boxed wine and $40 a bottle wine. Then I started to notice that food was only nice for its texture, and it didn't have the same flavor anymore. And smells, both good and bad, just escaped me (catbox? what catbox?). Everyone else could smell things but me. 

My nose has always been overly sensitive, to the point where smells bother me that others can't smell at all - it's a curse, for sure. There are way more bad smells in this world than good ones. But now, I could only smell what I would estimate to be maybe 25% of what I could. I looked it up on the interwebs, and apparently this is a thing that can happen after you have a really bad cold, and if it doesn't come back in a few weeks, it probably won't ever. Yikes! However, this has been a total blessing to me while trying to lose weight, and I think it may be to blame for why EVERYTHING SMELLS AND TASTES TERRIBLE TO ME NOW. 

All protein smells/tastes the same: veggie burgers, fish, beans, even cat food, for goodness sake (although I don't taste the cat food, it smells the same as the others). All dairy smells/tastes the same: yogurt, cheese, milk, cottage cheese, ice cream. All really bitter things smell the same: beer, coffee, even cigarettes! all smell the same. These three smells are really terrible and don't have anything to do with how any of these things smelled before surgery. They are not food smells. All other flavors are minor notes in comparison, and since I eat mostly protein and dairy, I rarely have anything to eat that doesn't smell like these things. Fruit and vegetables I can taste a bit, and they taste good (but different from before). 

In view of all this, the idea came to me the other day that it's not like food is dead to me - when someone you love dies, you miss them a lot and think about them all the time and wish they were back. However, it seemed way more like food and I were getting a divorce. I've never been divorced (happily married for 17 years this coming weekend!), but here's my thinking: I USED to love food, but it's just not a big part of my life now. I can't see what I ever saw in it. I don't want to be around it. I want to get on with my life and interact with food only as often as I need to (mealtimes), but it's always there, not gone forever, just not a central part of my life anymore. 

Again, part of this is the WLS physiological effects, but I think some of it is losing my sense of smell. I don't know if this will last past the honeymoon phase, but I think some of it might, just because I don't think my sense of smell is going to come back. 

Eating is just a chore, like scrubbing the toilet or taking out the garbage. This is all very weird. 


Well, here it is my eight weekaversary, and you didn't even get me a present, did you? 


I think the NUT is supposed to call me today to check on my progress - she's in Mexico and I'm in Oregon, so we have a long distance relationship. To be quite honest, I chose the clinic I chose because of the surgeon (tons of surgeries under his belt, and also actual WLS scars under his real actual belt, so A+ for understanding his patients' point of view), not because of the NUT, and although she is super well qualified (she's an actual doctor), her nutritional advice has been pretty hands-off. For after four weeks post-op, it was pretty much, "Eat like normal, but healthy, and much less. Add new foods slowly." Hmmm, OK. Not overly specific... 

This is actually OK with me, though, because I really like to cruise around the internet researching things on my own. What I've found on other clinics' "post-WLS sample menu" pages is often crazily specific, but there are very few even general principles that these nutritionists agree on. We've got low carb, we've got low fat, we've got no starches, we've got starches at every meal, we've got two protein shakes a day forever, we've got no protein shakes after two months, we've got no fruit or veg until you're at goal weight, we've got plant-based diet, we've got meat based diet, we've got no dairy, we've got high dairy, we've got 500 calories for the first six months, we've got 1000 calories a day by eight weeks. My take home message is: if WLS is super successful, it cannot be because of some special post-op diet because no one is doing the same thing. 

So, long story short, I know from past experience that low carb makes me not hungry the best. It seems very sustainable to be high protein and moderate fat and low carb (particularly eliminating starches for the most part). Bread, pasta, and carby snacks like crackers and chips are eating triggers for me (sweet stuff, too, but I already don't eat much of that - I laid down the law for myself a few years ago after reading too much about why sugar is the devil). When I eat bread, pasta, or carby snacks, I can eat SO MUCH. I want to eat SO MUCH. I feel driven to eat SO MUCH. However, when I eat a lot of protein and stay away from those, I actually think about food less and don't get very hungry. The whole metabolic syndrome hormonally driven mess (insulin, ghrelin, leptin, oh my). So, that's the plan: low carb, most carbs from veg (some fruit), beans, and dairy. And, of course, if things go off the rails on this plan, I give myself permission to change it up a bit later.

I told my mom about the surgery this week. She's been doing the snowbird thing, so this is the first time I've seen her since we got back from the Big Trip. I wanted to tell her in person so she could talk to ME about it instead of all of her snowbird friends (who I know). She was interested and surprised, but not really that interested, I guess. She's a bit hard to read. We don't have a girl-talk kind of relationship, so we talked about it a few times, but not a ton. So, all good there, I guess. Honestly, my MIL is way more interested and supportive. Whodathunk.

This week (while staying with my MIL) I caved after nearly 15 years as a vegetarian and told her it would be OK if she fixed us fish for Sunday dinner. It was like it was Christmas for her. She hates cooking us vegetarian food because her cooking repertoire is pretty much 1950s housewife and without meat, starch, and veg she is pretty much lost. She has a vegan grandchild who she also hates to cook for, but she is a grandchild and can get away with that. Daughter-in-law, nope. Just a bit resentful. So, the in-laws came for dinner with the non-vegan grandchild in tow, and we had fish - tilapia. I managed to eat a couple ounces of fish, plus some sweet potatoes and asparagus, and even (what!?) a few bites of salad. Foolish to try this for the first time at Sunday family dinner, I know, but it went really well! No salad problems at all. My plate looked a little sparse, but no one seemed to be staring - I haven't told the in-laws and probably won't as we aren't super close and none of them have weight issues. I just didn't have dessert (some store-bought thing, so no big deal), and didn't have any wine (this was more remarkable for me, but no one mentioned anything). So, family dinner success! 

The big news of the week is non-WLS-related: my husband and I have job offers from several places (well, three at the moment). Two are absolute no-go offers, not enough money for the location (and not very attractive locations). The third is a very attractive location, but maybe not the best job, but OK pay. We are waiting on pins and needles for offer #4 - an OK location, but good job and good pay. We have lived overseas for most of our adult lives, and came home a couple of years ago for family reasons (both of our dads died within a few months of each other). Our time here in the US has been a little... fraught... since our profession is not in high demand here - it's actually tanking as we speak, and we can't find jobs here (well, jobs that we like or that pay OK - we quit the jobs we hated so we could take the Big Trip). So, we're off abroad again, I think, since all four prospective jobs are abroad. Waiting on that #4. That's the one we want, so it'll be the last one to get back to us, of course. It always works that way. At least we've got offers - this is a huge improvement over a few weeks ago, and my mood has improved, as well. 



It's my seven weekaversary today! I'm hanging on at minus 22 pounds since surgery, plus the 19 pre-surgery, which seems pretty slow compared to others I read about, but I'm actually feeling pretty happy with my progress and wish I didn't know that other people lost faster. I wore a skirt today that was very tight around my waist and hips two weeks ago. One week ago, it fit noticeably better. Today, it fit comfortably. I know the numbers will go down, but seeing actual REAL changes makes me feel good about my progress. 


Eating status: routine is going well. I have crustless mini-quiche or some other kind of eggs for breakfast. I have a protein shake in the late morning. I eat cottage cheese or yogurt or something like that for lunch. I have a Thai curry tofu or veggie burgers or some other kind of fake meat for dinner, plus a little veggies if I have room. After dinner I have some fancy cheese and fruit for a snack. It comes out around 600-800 calories per day (usually closer to 600 with a few high days), with around 80g of protein. I'm never hungry and most kinds of food still don't taste good to me, with the exception of fruit (apples, melon, berries), veggies (sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach), and fancy cheese. I'm drinking loads of water now that I can take regular sized swallows instead of sips. 


I had some Halo Top strawberry ice cream last week and it was delicious, but tried the lemon and it's pretty yucky to me. This might be OK, though, because the lactose and/or sugar alcohols gave my stomach some mighty big rumbles, and also the sugar alcohols triggered whatever it is that makes me feel hungry when I eat too many refined carbs or sugar. I don't know if this happens to anyone else (and I've never had actual blood sugar problems), but when I eat something sweet or really starchy (white pasta or white rice, for example), a short time later, I get this feeling in my stomach like I'm starving and I need to eat all the food to make it go away. This is why I really feel happier living a lowish carb existence, with mostly protein and vegetables. That way of eating actually makes me crave food less and think about food less. Unfortunately, fake sugar seems to have the same effect as real sugar, so artificially sweetened foods trigger this reaction as well. Apparently Halo Top is just enough of this to do that. I've been "hungry" two times since my surgery: once when I had some sugar free pudding, and this time with the Halo Top. I think this is just the evidence I need to NOT consume fake sugar - I usually try to avoid it, but I think this time my commitment will be serious. I hate that gnawing, desperate feeling.


If you haven't read much about sugar and its effects on the body, Gary Taubes has some interesting books on the subject. I pretty much gave up sugar after reading them (though of course that wasn't enough to make me thin, or I wouldn't be blogging about WLS). Some persuasive writing.


I don't think I put it on this blog, but I found some research pointing to RNY as a trigger for the body to physically taste things differently. In women who had undergone RNY, but not those who had undergone VSG, researchers found that the patients had changed in their perception of sweet. Increasing the amount of sweetness made food decrease in its palatability to RNY patients. Sweeter = yuckier for RNY patients. Interesting.


Confession: If I'm being really honest with myself, I know that I should be exercising more. I have been going for hour long walks maybe 3 or 4 times a week, but there is no excuse for not doing more than that. I am job hunting, so I have a lot of TIME. I can't join a gym because I don't have a fixed address at the moment (since the trip, my husband and I have bounced back and forth between our moms' houses, and are planning to do some month-long Airbnbs coming up soon until we figure out what's going to happen to our careers), but really I could do more. I'm feeling a bit depressed about the job hunt, so that's making me feel less like going for a walk, although I know that actually improves my mood. Funny that being depressed makes you do things that make you more depressed (act like a slug, eat lots of unhealthy things, avoid socializing, etc). Hey, at least I'm aware. New goal: walk every day, whether I feel like it or not. 













Today is my six weeks week out surgiversary. Happy six weeks to me. Not sure what the traditional gift for that milestone is. Protein shake, probably.


I lost no weight at all while away from the scale last week. I've lost only about 2 pounds in the last two weeks. This does not reflect my changing body, however, so I will ignore what the &#*%@ scale says. We are not required to wear our scale numbers on name-tags, after all. My clothes are getting looser and I feel *thinner*. I'm down 37 pounds from my pre-op and 18 pounds from op, which seems glacially slow to me, but it would, of course, seem amazing before surgery. I'm totally on-plan, getting all my protein and water, keeping carbs low, and eating between 500-800 calories a day, so I know I'm not doing anything wrong.


Today's topic: How does WLS actually work? 


WLS does a lot of weird things to your body, and scientists and surgeons only understand a little bit about the mechanisms that go on afterwards, apparently. I like to research this stuff because it's really fascinating how little we know about weight loss/gain, metabolism, nutrition, and how they all come together with WLS. Here's my understanding of the science, through the eyes of an English teacher, not a scientist. I've got some links here, and many are to boring medical study reports. Also, please note that this is a pretty new field of study, and there are many studies whose results don't agree with the below information. Science is pretty messy, and medical/nutritional science seems especially messy - it's full of complicated factors that are difficult to exactly reproduce, and clear answers don't come until studies can be reliably repeated with the same results. We're not there yet. Example: Here's a study laying out two opposing views and the research to back them up *warning: boring medical research paper*


Most people think that WLS is all about restriction, i.e. not allowing the body to eat much because of restricted stomach size (and for RNY/DS patients malabsorption, i.e. bypassing some of the intestine where nutrients are absorbed). Makes sense. However, researchers are finding that this only accounts for a small portion of the changes our bodies go through, and some good evidence comes from comparing sleeve and bypass patients with lapband patients: lapband patients don't experience the same metabolic changes as other WLS patients. For the purposes of the rest of this post, when I use "WLS" I'm not referring to lapband because lapband patients don't see these effects. (Sorry, lapband people. I know there are many people who enjoy successful lapband experiences, but they apparently aren't successful for these particular reasons!)


Hormonal changes


One effect of WLS: a decrease in several key hormones that deal with metabolism: insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and chemerin (well, and like 40 others, but I've found less info on them). Insulin regulates blood sugar and how cells either use or store glucose (sugar) from food we eat. Leptin is secreted by fat cells and is responsible for making you feel full after you eat. Ghrelin is secreted and makes you feel hungry when your stomach is empty, and secretion stops when your stomach is full. Chemerin plays a role in insulin resistance and breakdown of fats. These hormones get thrown out of whack by obesity. Or hormones being out of whack causes obesity. Researchers are not sure. Being out of whack and obesity go hand in hand, anyway. They should be self-regulating: more food makes you feel full, increased body fat makes you want to eat less, etc. However, with "metabolic syndrome" all of this is messed up. Fat people crave more food, not less - not because they're gluttons, but because they are driven to by their out of whack hormones. This is part of why even successful dieters usually gain weight back - their hormones are still messed up and drive them to eat.


RNY and sleeve operations seem to fix this, or reverse it, and it's not entirely clear why. This is connected to the reasons that most patients with diabetes go into remission in after surgery - the body just suddenly gets better at dealing with blood sugar regulation because insulin secretion has been changed. This happens before patients actually lose much/any weight - so it's not a result of weight loss, but the surgical changes to the GI tract. This is also connected to why most patients don't feel hungry after surgery (at least initially) - the ghrelin is not being secreted as before (besides that stomach nerves are healing!). 


Microbiome changes


Another effect of weight loss surgery is a change in the gut bacteria in the patients' intestines. This bacteria, known as the "microbiome," may play a large role in weight regulation as well as many other body regulation systems, but the research on this is fairly new. Doctors can "transplant"* microbiome from a healthy person to someone with an unhealthy imbalance (such as a Clostridium difficile infection, which causes horrible diarrhea and colon damage) and the transplanted microbiome will take over and fix the problem. In doing these, doctors noticed that if the "donor" suffered from obesity, the patient receiving the transplant might also begin to suffer from obesity. The different varieties of bacteria in the microbiome can lead to leanness or obesity. Studies of the microbiota of WLS patients show that the varieties of bacteria change after the surgery and the new microbiota show a larger number of varieties. In fact, in lab studies, researchers have been able to take rats who've had gastric bypass surgery (poor little rats!) and transplant their microbiota to obese rats and the obese rats lose weight! 

*if you are interested in how a transplant might work, and you have a strong stomach, here you go. There are also capsules that have been developed...


Resting Metabolic Rate changes


A huge problem when undergoing weight loss is that the the patient's metabolism adapts (slows down) as weight is lost. This is because the body wants to preserve the status quo - in evolutionary terms, it's a good idea to respond to famine by hanging onto weight instead of losing it. Unfortunately, we can't tell our bodies that they're not experiencing famine - just trying to lose weight! From the studies that I can find, it seems that WLS patients experience a less severe experience with this, or perhaps their RMR improves. In a study comparing Biggest Loser competitors with RNY patients, the resting metabolic rate of the RNY patients was higher - they were burning more calories per day - than the Biggest Loser competitors at one year out, even though the Biggest Loser competitors lost less lean mass or gained more muscle than the RNY patients. (The authors of that study see merit in eating lots of protein and exercising to help out with this) The science is not totally settled on this as studying it is difficult due to many factors that can confuse the results.


Anyway, there are probably other mechanisms I haven't read about (reminder: I'm not a scientist!), and there are undoubtedly mechanisms researchers haven't identified yet, but this is a basic overview of the less obvious ways that WLS helps us lose weight. I'm pretty sick of reading the "calories in calories out" stuff that's out there - it's just not a complete way of thinking about how people lose or gain weight. 


Here are some more "fun" articles (non medical journals) if you're interested: 

Why You Can't Lose Weight on a Diet (nytimes) 

After "The Biggest Loser" Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight (nytimes)

Bacteria in the Intestines May Help Tip the Bathroom Scale, Studies Show (nytimes)

Woman Becomes Overweight After Fecal Transplant from Overweight Donor (iflscience)

Most of Us Misunderstand Metabolism. Here are 9 Facts to Clear That Up (vox)

When You Lose Weight, Where Does It Go? (Scientific American) - lots of scientific jargon, but short









I'm at almost six weeks out - that's coming on Tuesday. I haven't weighed myself in almost a week, so no idea how things are going there. I'll do that tomorrow. I've been away from my scale for that time, so it doesn't reflect any amazing self-control about not weighing myself. Just no scale access.


I've spent the week at the international convention for my profession (job hunting, networking, etc), and this has been an interesting challenge for my the new me. Until this week, my eating has been a purely private affair, among those who know why I'm eating like a picky toddler and not drinking during my meal. During the convention, I ate several meals out and was for the most part very successful. I was also able to bring enough snacks (shakes and string cheese) with me so I could keep up my energy all day.


The convention center had just a couple of sandwich places, and staying inside the facility all day was pretty grim anyway, so we decided to venture out into the city to eat at lunch each day. I was with my husband (we're in the same profession) and my BFF who flew in for the convention, and who I told about my surgery right away. She was actually very supportive and non-judgmental about it, and as an avid exercise/nutrition freak, was very interested to hear about all the physiological stuff. Anyway, they were both OK with choosing restaurants based on whether I felt I could choose something good there. 


One day I had a Mexican bowl thingy with black beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, and olives (no rice) and it was easy to eat and tasted good. I ate only a teeny bit because the beans were pretty heavy feeling, but it all went down well. Nothing really new here, just new to eat it in a restaurant. 


Another day I tried Indian food. I had already had some palak paneer (spinach and cheese) from a ready-made foil pouch, so I was pretty sure it would go OK. The restaurant stuff was of course much better tasting, and I ate a fair bit of it, but not so much that my stomach was uncomfortable. As a table, we ordered palak paneer, malai kofta (cheese curd balls in cashew gravy - sounds awful in the description, but this is one of my favorite Indian dishes), and dal maharani (spicy lentils), plus naan (bread) for my two dining partners. The dal was disgusting because it was pretty oniony, and onions taste like poison to me now, as does garlic. The two other dishes were delicious and went down very well. They were pretty spicy, which was a little bit uncomfortable, maybe because it was just a new sensation, but not too bad. These dishes are mostly of a soft, pureed texture, so very easy to eat. I wasn't bothered by not eating the naan, even though I used to LOOOOOOOVE naan. I just sort of felt like, "This is not for me," and that was it. I drank a bunch of water before the food came, and then not during or after eating, which was a little weird, particularly since the food was spicy, but I managed just fine. 


Another day I had Thai food, specifically red Thai curry with tofu. This sounds easy because I've had home versions of it previously, but unfortunately, this version had deep fried tofu instead of just cubes of plain tofu. Oops. I figured I'd try it just to see, but regretted it all afternoon. It just felt not good in my stomach to the point where I will definitely not try this again any time soon. I had to sit through several sessions with a very uncomfortable feeling. 


For breakfasts, I ate little rolled up snacks of sliced Tofurkey (fake lunch meat) and swiss cheese. This is my new go-to thing. It tastes good, goes down well, and fills me up. One little roll of one slice of cheese and two little slices of Tofurkey are enough to really fill me up.


In the evenings, we of course had to go out because that's what you do at conferences, so we ended up at a lot of brew-pubs (it was in Seattle). I used to really love a good microbrew, but it just tastes awful to me now. The bitter part of it is the only thing I can taste, and it's terrible. I drank ice water with lemon or bloody mary mix (no booze) instead. This was not difficult. I didn't miss the beer. I did have to explain to an old friend that I'd quit drinking as he paid for a round, but I think I played it off casually enough. He didn't ask any follow up questions, anyway. I suppose he's imagining AA or something. It really says something about my fear of acknowledging my issues with my weight that having someone think I have a drinking problem seems preferable to admitting to WLS...


On evening outings, food was a little more difficult since we were in pubs, but one night they had pizza (awesome amazing pizza, apparently, if my companions are to be believed), but I skipped it because I've determined that pizza (or the toppings, anyway) doesn't sit that well with me. Another night the pub we were at had a cheese plate appetizer with several nice varieties of fancy cheese, plus crackers (ate one to try it - it was OK), apple slices (delicious - I was worried it might not settle well, but it was fine), and cranberry chutney (I dunked my cheese in it a few times). This was about the perfect pub meal, and I'll have to look for places that do this in the future. I can sit and fiddle with my food for as long as I like because it's a fiddly sort of dish, plus anyone can have some of mine because it's an appetizer, anyway. 


All in all, it wasn't terribly difficult to eat out as long as I did some preliminary menu research online before going. It felt like the waiters were a little weirded out by how little I was eating, but whatever, they're not paid to judge my food consumption. 


I'm really glad that I've already started this journey and lost around 40 pounds since pre-op. This made me feel a lot more confident in the job interviews that I had, which I'm sure is a quality that works to my advantage in hiring decisions. I'm hoping one of the places I interviewed with offers me a job - I've got another place I applied to online but haven't interviewed with yet that I'm really well qualified for and that I really hope I get an offer from. I know I'm counting my chickens, but if I get those two offers, I'll be really pleased.





Tuesday was my one month post-op, and I'm happy to say that my stall is over. Also, when I actually look at the numbers on the app that I use to track my weight, it's not really much of a stall. It just messed with my head to have only lost 10 pounds after 2, then 3 weeks out. Now I'm at -18 post-op, and -37 total, since the beginning of January. It's starting to feel like things are happening, although it looks to be happening a bit more slowly than for many others. My face looks thinner, my body feels thinner, and my clothes are fitting a lot better. When I move around, whether walking, climbing stairs, shaving legs in the shower, etc., I feel like I can do it more easily. It's great!


The eating situation is really strange. I'm not hungry at all. When it's time to eat, food sounds kind of good in theory, but isn't very exciting once I'm faced with it. I can eat about 1/4 cup of food at a time, more if it's soup/applesauce/something squishy like that. Some things taste terrible to me now: garlic and onions taste like metallic chemicals, eggs taste like sulphur, some kinds of cheese taste rotten. Fruits and vegetables taste amazing, but since I can only have a bite or two after eating my protein, I'm not getting much of them. I've been having red Thai curry tofu and vegetables the last few days for dinner (one batch makes enough for like two weeks, lol), and it's really delicious. The fat from the coconut milk went through me a bit fast the first day, but I guess my system has gotten used to it now, so it sits well with me. I'm still relying on protein shakes for most of my protein. Can't wait until I don't have to!


Energy levels are pretty good. I feel a bit tired in the afternoon, but not terrible, and since I'm not working at the moment, it's not affecting me much. I need to get out for more regular walks, though. 


The big road trip I was on came to an end on Tuesday, as well. After seven months on the road all over the US, we arrived back where we started (there's a metaphor here, I just know it): my MIL's house :mellow:  I was really really really nervous about telling her about the WLS, since she's a tad judgmental of my decisions normally, and is also a crazy worrywart. However, perhaps because she has spent her whole life yoyo dieting, she actually seemed to think it was a good idea, and is really curious and enthusiastic about the whole thing (at least to my face, which is good enough for me!). She's also afraid to eat in front of me, which is kind of funny, because I couldn't care less. Sadly, I find myself judging her food choices in my head, which is not kind. She has had the most success in her life doing 80s old school dieting, and relies on 80s nutritional science to this day. Diet = low fat, high carb food. With fat free cheese on top. Hold the protein. Iceberg salads with fat free (sugar filled) thousand island on top. Jelly beans for a treat because fat free! Coke is OK because it's fat free! It makes me sad because I know how hungry that kind of diet can make a person. And how ineffective that kind of dieting can be. I'm really holding my tongue, though. Over the years, I've definitely bought into the sugar and refined carbs = evil school of thought, but it would be a complete change of worldview for her, and she's not one to change philosophies on a dime. Smile and tell her she's doing great. It's better for our relationship, I promise.


One weird thing that happened this week was that I had a strange reaction to new calcium chews I had bought. I got gummy ones and figured they had some sugar, like my multivitamins, but when I was chewing the first two I noticed that they were really sweet! I checked the package info (why did I not do this when I bought them? I'm usually so careful about these things), I saw that they have 7g of sugar per two chews, and you're supposed to have 4 chews per day! What!? Then, about an hour later, I got HUNGRY. That stomach growling, empty, craving sort of hungry that I would maybe get after having something really sweet like pancakes and syrup. And this is after a month of not having anything like hunger at all. Stupid calcium chews!!! Goodbye forever. I'm buying some liquid calcium that is sugar free. I've been cruising the ThinnerTimesForum boards, so I have a good idea of what to look for this time. Thanks to those who've done this research and shared it!


Next week comes with new challenges: I'm going to a big international conference for my profession to look for a job for the next school year, so I'll have to manage getting all of my food/liquid while at a conference all day. I'll also be meeting up with a friend who I would normally be having quite a lot of beer and pizza with - I'm going to tell her about the WLS since she's a really good friend, but as someone who's never had real problems with her weight, I'm pretty sure she won't understand. We'll see. 


Wishing I had done the surgery a couple of months earlier so I feel more confident in job interviews. When I was last thin-ish, I remember sitting in on a conversation with a group of people who were in charge of hiring for my department - they were all bad-mouthing a heavy person who had interviewed. The toxic language was awful. They really couldn't see hiring a fat person because obviously fat people had no self control and didn't try to take care of themselves at all. "I mean, just put the burger down and go to the gym." The closeted fat person in me was just cringing and pitying the guy. The world is kinder to people of socially acceptable size, and cruel indeed to those of us who are not. 






Yesterday was three weeks since surgery. Things have been going pretty well. 


I've been eating soft foods and having good luck with them - refried beans, ricotta bake, applesauce, guacamole, hummus, soups, and the ever-present protein shakes. I'm getting 500-700 calories a day, with two shakes normally, and 65-85 grams of protein, so I think I'm doing OK. Yesterday I went out for pizza (what!?) because my husband is getting pretty desperate for it. We ordered a veggie pizza and I ate most of the toppings off of one smallish slice, rationalizing that it's not that different from just eating cheese. I felt pretty full afterwards, and the fat overdose (I assume) sent me to the bathroom pretty quickly after getting back to the hotel. So, hey! No constipation. Anyway, lesson learned: I can have a bit of pizza if I want, but I may pay the price. This won't be a frequent menu item for me, but good to know it's an option if I want. 


My energy is pretty good - I'm traveling, as I have mentioned, and am currently in hiking heaven (Moab, UT), and trying to hike enough to satisfy my desire to do so without doing too much. For the last three days, I've been doing short (2-3.5 mile trails) that are nice and flattish. I'm drinking a ton of water and taking it slowly. It's so beautiful here - I'd hate to miss out on the hiking, and I'm doing just enough to make me happy. It really tires me out for the day, though. I can't wait until I'm hauling a lot less weight up and down the trails so I can really enjoy hiking again. Just the idea that things are headed in the right direction now is really helpful - my mood is good because I know I'm getting better. 


This morning my scale moved one pound downward after 10 days of stall (I stalled after 10 days out). I'm trying hard to take the numbers with a grain of salt. I lost 20 pounds in the five weeks leading up to surgery, so I'm sure I was due for a stall anyway, but I'm certainly hoping that I can resume the march downward now. I know that I'm doing everything right, and this is just how my body is responding to the trauma/shock of surgery and a radically reduced caloric intake. Think of the big picture! Trust the process! Etc.



Important lesson in the process of re-learning to eat:


OK, as of yesterday, all had gone well with my food intake so far. Then, last night, I have a cup of split pea soup (like 1/2 a cup, watered down to nice thin shake-like consistency, which I eat over the course of about 30 minutes). About an hour later, my poor pouch starts feeling like it is just too full, like I'm going to burp but can't. I get up and walk around. I drink some water and that makes it feel worse. 


Cut to bedtime, like a couple of hours later. It's a little worse. When I lay down, it feels quite a bit worse, and I have to use pillows to prop myself up. I lay in bed for an hour or so, feeling uncomfortable, then decide to just get up and sit on the couch, hoping the feeling would pass while I sit upright. Nope. Water doesn't feel particularly good going down, either. Nothing is coming up, it just feels really really full and kind of pinched a little. 


Of course I start googling around for advice. This is the type of behavior that usually leads to panic, I know, but I just want to get an idea of what is out there. I don't have the symptoms that sound like an emergency (can't keep anything down, nausea, severe pain, etc), so I try not to panic. It was the soup, something about the soup. I'm not getting better. 


Finally, at about 4am, I have a lightbulb moment: split pea soup maybe = gas. As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of beans/legumes/pulses, so my system is very used to them, and I don't usually have gastrointestinal issues from eating them. Perhaps this has gone away... so I take a couple of Gas X strips. Everything starts calming down a bit over the course of a half hour or so. Then, I drink some water and spit it up after a minute or two of nausea. Poof. Done.  Discomfort immediately decreases. At the one hour mark, water goes down fine, everything is feeling pretty good, and I go back to bed. 


This morning, everything is going down fine, although the pouch feels a bit angry. I'm taking it easy today - just shakes and a banana so far. 


Important lesson: Gas X strips.


Today marks 16 days post-op, and I'm feeling pretty normal, barring the weird eating/drinking schedule and occasional exhaustion attacks. Since I have the luxury (?) of being unemployed during this process, I'm able to take it easy or not, depending on how I feel, which is nice.


So, I'm apparently one of those "slow losers," at least initially. I know, I know, it's only 16 days out. Don't weigh yourself every day. Third week stall. Everyone loses at different rates. It didn't go on overnight, and it won't come off overnight. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know, I know. But STILL!!!


The problem is that I'm in a Fb group with about 15 other women who all had surgery the same day, and who are VERY supportive, and kind, and happy to cheerlead for each other, and are daily celebrating their much larger losses than mine. And some of them have lower start weights than me. I don't wish them anything but the best, but it's actually not humanly possible to not compare myself to them. I've lost 10 pounds since surgery (in 16 days), and several of them have lost 20+. The ones who've lost less than 20 are feeling sorry for themselves. And then there's me. I know that there's absolutely nothing wrong with me. I know that I'm following doctor's orders practically perfectly. I know that my body is in control and that it will do what it's going to do. I just need to be patient. It will happen.


On a positive note, my lactose intolerance seems to affect me only with liquid dairy (milk, yogurt) and cheese has been OK. This is a very good thing. I'm totally fine with not drinking milk - I don't like it anyway - but cheese, must have. Thank goodness this seems to go down just fine.


Food is going just fine: refried beans, cottage cheese, eggs, applesauce, and split pea soup are on high rotation in my two weeks of soft foods. So far so good. Getting in the water I need to is going OK, too. I haven't been sleeping well, but it's hard to tease apart my normal insomnia from anything WLS related.


I've been really active the last couple of days, but it doesn't take much activity to exhaust me. I'm traveling in New Mexico at the moment, and there are so many fantastic things to see, but many of them require at least a little light hiking, and it seems like everything in this state is at altitude, which doesn't help. We've gone to a couple of really cool Pueblo sites and walked all around the ruined villages. They're really beautiful and evocative and amazing to walk through. Today I walked a 1.5 mile loop that included some short climbs, plus some stairs (I didn't attempt the ladders - that seemed to be pushing my luck), and this was at almost 7000 feet. It was so tiring. I was just absolutely exhausted by the end. I tried to just keep focusing on the fact that hiking will be so much easier when I'm not carrying around a 100 pound backpack ;)





Today I felt pretty normal! That's a good thing - my stomach doesn't hurt, my lactose issues are at bay, and I have more energy. I went to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and actually went for a fairly good walk on the dunes. It's gorgeous. It also did a superb job of exfoliating my feet - the white gypsum sands are extra exfoliate-y.


I was still suffering from the aftereffects of drinkable yogurt yesterday (yogurt isn't supposed to have that much lactose! Too much for me, I guess), but woke up feeling good. I decided to totally avoid dairy today to make sure I don't have whey issues in addition to the lactose. Apparently I don't, since one day of shakes with unsweetened soy milk and I feel good. I'm going for three shakes today, and I feel like although that will be a lot, the increased calories might be good for my energy. Still have to get that last shake in, though. I also had a mini-can of low sodium V8, which is sitting very nicely with me and tastes pretty good, to boot. 


My ingenious idea for soup today after some failures (vegetarian vegetable strained = lightly-flavored orange-tinted salty water; cream of mushroom made with soy is repulsive) was Amy's Thai coconut curry soup. I LOOOOOOOOOVE Thai coconut soup, but was a bit worried about the fat content (it's 10g per serving). It sat very well with me and was the first good tasting thing I've ingested since February 8. Not that I'm counting. It's got a bit of protein, it's very low carb for soup, and not sure if I mentioned it, but it's delicious. I'm currently staying in a hotel on my travels (off to an AirBnb tomorrow), so my "cooking" is very limited. I have a hotel microwave. Looking forward to moving on to soft foods on Monday and being able to use the AirBnb's kitchen to whip up some creative soft foods: the apparently required ricotta bake, eggs, not sure what else. 


I know it's early days and I'm still on liquids, but it seems like I can take in a lot more liquids than other people talk about. The 64oz of water are no problem (I usually drink a lot of water), but also shakes, soups, and V8 are easy to get down pretty quickly. I mean, not in gulps, but many sips. I can take out an 8oz shake in like half an hour. I would worry a bit more about this, but I watched my leak test at the hospital (does everyone get to watch this? I thought it was fascinating!), and that liquid just does one loop-de-loop in the pouch and it's outta there. Very fast. So I think I won't worry about being able to consume liquids quickly. Apparently it all changes when the actual food starts. 


The lolz of the day was: reading about my Fb surgery-twin support group complaining about gaining a pound today, then me consoling with the age-old wisdom of paying attention to trends, not daily changes, and THEN getting on the scale for the first time since day 7 post-op and finding out I had gained two pounds. Oddly, I think I mentally set myself up for success by thinking about other people's gains first. The two pounds really didn't faze me at all - I feel and look thinner, and logically I know that I'm not gaining weight on 500 calories a day. 


***************Philosophical ramblings alert!***************


I've been doing a lot of thinking, trying to decide what my "food philosophy" is going to be once I get to that point. My nutritionist is not that specific (so far) about what kinds of foods SHE thinks I should be eating, other than her preference for a low carb low fat diet. I know that the field of nutrition is a bit conservative in their opinions about what exactly constitutes a "healthy" diet, and some people seem to do better on one than another. My problem is that I've done all the diets. And I like to research stuff, so I've read all the research on all the diets. Basically, I think I know everything, despite my obvious lack of any credentials ;)


Low carb, high fat vs. Low carb, low fat

For me, low carb seems to make me feel less hungry and less obsessed by food than other diets, but that usually only works if it's low carb plus a good amount of fat. Low carb, low fat makes me want to scream after not very long. However, it's very hard for a vegetarian to actually do REALLY low carb, like keto/old school Atkins style because all of the protein sources except eggs have some accompanying carbs (beans, fake meat). It's hard to get below 20g of carbs per day or whatever the target is. So my low carb isn't really super low carb, it's just pretty low carb.


I've been watching videos by Dr. Matthew Weiner, a bariatric surgeon in Michigan who has a very particular way of dealing with post-op diets. He prefers his patients to focus on vegetables (and some fruit) and leave the protein in a secondary role. He has a lot of good info in his videos on YouTube, and he actually seems like he might be a secret vegan trying not to push his lifestyle on his patients by allowing them some limited amounts of proteins, while still getting enough protein to meet their post-op needs. 


The idea is that if you eat enough vegetables (and fruit), which don't set off insulin reactions during digestion, you will essentially crowd out the bad stuff in your diet and naturally eat lower calorie, more satisfying food and never be hungry. I feel like this might be a good fit for me because of its reliance on non-meat protein (nuts, seeds, beans) and focus on eating adequate volume while still being good for insulin levels, leaving the patient satisfied and not in a hunger spiral due to blood sugars and whatever other weird hormonal effects of eating higher glycemic foods. 


He also emphasizes getting off shakes and other fake-foods very quickly after surgery, and I like that. I don't like artificially sweetened things and don't eat much processed food in general, so the idea of living on shakes and bars kind of doesn't jibe with the foodie in me. In fact, his protein drink is a smoothie with fruit and greens and a scoop of plain whey protein. Sounds better to me than the chemical tasting ones I'm currently drinking. My sticking point is with the diet having not much oil (even healthy kinds) or cheese (omg I love cheese please don't take my cheese you can have my wallet just don't take my cheese). 


I guess I've got around three months of protein focus before I really get to a point where I need to decide on my eating philosophy, so no reason to stress right now. Just food for thought. 





Day nine post-op. Feeling pretty good today - just low energy and a little spacey feeling (probably normal at this level of caloric intake).


Last night I decided to try cream of mushroom soup, a comforting favorite from childhood. Although I make my shakes with soy milk because I don't really like cow milk, I made the soup with cow milk because it sounded weird to have soy Campbell's soup. Very shortly after finishing my delicious bowl of childhood throwback food, my stomach started feeling awful and I had to lay down. Things did not go better until this morning. Well, I guess I can use milk as a laxative now, so that's good. I'll stick with the soy in future. I know there's low lactose milk, but I don't really like milk anyway, so I'll just do the soy thing. It's got a lot of protein, so all good there.


So, some effects that I think may be attributable to being in a state of ketosis right now: gross fuzzy white tongue, thirsty, bad breath, brain fog, insomnia. These are all things I have experienced doing super low carb in the past, so I'm guessing that's what they are and that I'm indeed in ketosis, which is good for weight loss but not totally pleasant. I'm hoping this will go away when I start mushy food next week. Looking forward to some variety and hopefully I'll be up for increasing my caloric intake - right now I'm getting in like 400 or so while feeling full all day.


The last few days, I've been trying to wrap my head around the idea that this IS happening. It feels a bit like I bought the ticket, got into the seat and buckled the belt, and the rollercoaster is going to start moving, regardless of what I do. Very very very different from my previous weight loss experiences, when it felt like it was all on me and nothing was guaranteed - it could all come screeching to a halt at any moment and zoom back into reverse. I'm really fascinated at the difference this has on my mentality. It feels like I have a secret weapon that will do a lot of the work, and that I have to cooperate in order for it to work most efficiently, but that it will do a lot on its own. This doesn't make me feel powerless or like I can slack off and rely on the mechanics of it. It instead makes me feel like I'm just more powerful because I've got this secret weapon on my side. 



OK, one week out and I had my post-op check up yesterday afternoon.


Good news: everything seems to be going well. Went over my post-op diet, and was cleared for full liquids (thank goodness, I was going crazy!!). Got my drain tube taken out, which was a very strange sensation - not painful, but felt exactly like what it was: having a foot of surgical tubing pulled out of my body cavity through a narrow hole. *cue spaghetti slurping sound* Got weighed and lost 7 pounds since surgery. I'm not actually too fussed about that, since I know that I'm just healing and stuff now. I don't plan on weighing myself every day for a while. Eventually I will, since that has led to accountability in the past for me.


Anyway, all cleared to head back to the states today - a five hour bus ride, but I'm feeling up for it. I really feel better without the tube in me. My tummy doesn't feel very sore today, and I'm able to sit up while engaging my core muscles fairly easily now. My energy is pretty low in the morning, and I'm having to sit down between having a shower and doing the rest of my getting ready. After my shake I'm better, though.


************** interlude ***************

OK, back in the USA! The bus ride was no sweat. Even climbed a couple of flights of stairs in the parking garage (not by choice...). Chillin' at the Laredo La Quinta now ;) My hotel room has a fridge and a microwave, so I can actually choose what to "eat" so I've got cream of mushroom soup, veggie soup, Oikos drinkable yogurt, and if everything goes smoothly, some sugar free pudding cups (which are not on my week 2 list, but I'm living on the edge).


I think I might have developed a Sucralose (Splenda) sensitivity. I can now use my Gas X strips as a laxative, which I guess is super handy, but wow, Splenda is in everything. I'm going to give my Splenda pudding cup a shot tonight, so we'll see. I've never really liked artificially sweetened stuff, so I usually just avoid sweets (except when I don't! Looking at you, sour gummi worms!). The taste of artificially sweetened stuff seems to be more overly-sweet than before surgery, and is fairly unappealing right now. Not sure if that'll last.


Been reading a lot of Baritastic FB group today while on the bus. There is such a huge variety of experiences that people are living, with only WLS in common, really, but since that's a huge thing, the people are actually quite friendly and supportive. One person put on today that she went to her doctor for a 6 month checkup and, after losing 80 pounds, said that she hoped to lose 50 more, bringing her to the fabled Onederland. Her doctor told her that she'd probably never get there. #%$??? What kind of bedside manner is that??? I mean, there are average percentages of excess weight that WLS patients lose, but they are AVERAGES. They don't determine individual performance. People lose more, people lose less.


Doctors seem to have 1) sh1tty interpersonal skills; and 2) zero respect for people who struggle with obesity - like obese people are not actually people. I rarely go to the doctor, fortunately, but in the few instances I have, I have always gotten flack for my weight, regardless of whether that was what I was there for. And awesome advice, such as: eat more vegetables! go for a walk after dinner! skip dessert! (I don't eat dessert - maybe once every couple of months). Thanks, doc. You are just magical. I am cured.


My worst experience at the doctor was when I went at around age 30 to get birth control pills. I had just gotten done losing 90 pounds over the course of a year. Ninety pounds! I was eating like a nutritionist. I was exercising hard (running, biking, gymming) about 20 hours a week. I was FIT. The doctor looked at the scale and it said 148. Wrinkled her brow. Went to the BMI wall chart and said, "You're toward the high side of normal BMI, and I can see you're carrying some extra fat in your thighs. You should lose some weight. Have you tried dieting?" I was so shocked that I responded with silence. I just answered her questions and left with my prescription. And got so depressed that that was really the breaking point on my weight loss project. That was the moment where I was like, "Hey, if I'm working this hard and I'm still too fat, maybe I shouldn't try so hard." That didn't end well.


I get it. I shouldn't have let her affect me that way. It was me letting the world determine my path rather than doing that myself. But jeez! Can't they understand the weight (pun super not intended) of their words? The are The Doctor.


OK, doctor rant over. My WLS surgeon was awesome, and totally nonjudgemental. Well, he had WLS like 13 years ago himself, so I suppose that helps, but everyone else in the office was really nice, too. 


It's day five post-op, and my surgeon has me having only clear liquids until Monday (tomorrow) at our 5pm appointment, when he will supposedly clear me for full liquids. The only "food" I'm cleared for is broth or Isopure clear. 


I'm in a hotel in Mexico: there is no veggie broth here, only meat broth in restaurant soups (I tried some meat broth and it made me gag - I'm just not used to meat flavored stuff. It was truly awful tasting to my vegetarian taste buds). I brought veggie bouillon cubes from the US, and although they used to taste OK (bouillon cubes are never very tasty), I made one yesterday and it smelled so bad to me that I gagged. Hmm. Apparently my tastes have changed, as so many have promised they would. No great loss on the veggie bouillon cube front.


Isopure clear is the devil, a million times worse than the broth. I have drunk one per day since I was released from the hospital as my only protein/vitamin/mineral source, and it is just so offensive tasting that it turns my (now tiny) stomach. I think I'm also sensitive to one of the ingredients in it, because it's making the inside of my throat peel off in little gooey globs of skin. This happens when I use whitening toothpaste, but not sure what chemical it is, so no way to avoid it. It is very unpleasant, but not the worst thing about the Isopure. The worst thing is the taste. The second worst thing is the astringent feeling in my mouth after drinking it. It seems like something you'd use for a household cleaner, not food.


I've been having carrot juice at the breakfast buffet each morning, which is going down well, but that's my only other source of calories or nutrition. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will get cleared for soup and pudding and applesauce and stuff, I think. Even other protein shakes would be awesome! Chocolate Premier sounds heavenly at this point. 


OK, done whining. I'm not skipping ahead on my food lists or anything, no cheating, just feeling very sorry for myself about the disgusting Isopure. 


As far as everything else goes, I'm feeling pretty well. I tossed and turned last night so my tummy felt a little sore this morning, like on the inside. My surgeon told me that there's basically nothing I can do (moving, lifting, whatever) to mess up the insides, which makes me feel better, but they just feel a little tender today. The incisions don't hurt at all. My stomach is still a little swollen from the trauma of the surgery, but otherwise it's all good. The drain tube is draining less stuff now, but I'm really looking forward to getting it removed. It's a bit of a hassle having it dangling from me. It also makes me feel more like a hospital patient and less like a regular person.


My energy is fine ( I'm taking it very easy on myself - being far from home with no real plans makes that a cinch: I don't do anything I don't feel like). I don't feel hungry, or in pain, or grouchy or anything (except about the Isopure). Just waiting to get the all clear so I can go back to the US. We'll be picking up our round-the-country driving trip, going very slowly, when we get back, so we'll be headed across Texas with lots of stops and short driving days. Looking forward to it. And to the soup.


Nerdy aside:

While I've been whiling away my days at the hotel, I've been doing a lot of internet reading, and I came across an interesting piece in Mother Jones about the gut bacteria microbiome and weight loss/gain. TL;DR - the variety of bacteria in our guts can be changed by eating sweet/fatty/carby foods, and some of those new bacteria put out toxic molecules that cause inflammation in the body. It is speculated that this inflammation may cause weight gain. Some kinds of probiotics can lessen this inflammation. Another thing that can lessen this effect is... weight loss surgery. Besides changing the way that many genes are expressed all over the body, it can actually change what kinds of bacteria are found in the gut. The new kinds may lead to weight loss. This is all in sort of preliminary studies right now, and isn't well understood yet, but scientists are finding that some bacteria in the gut make you healthy, while others make you both fat and unhealthy. Basically, WLS does some crazy things to our bodies, and scientists aren't totally sure of why it works so well, but work it does. 


I'm writing this from my hotel room in Monterrey. I was discharged yesterday around noon after my leak test, and I think I'm doing pretty well. I'll be here at the hotel for about four more days, for one final check with the surgeon and nut before I return to the US. 


The hospital stay was just fine - a nice private room, but since it's a hospital, there are people coming and going checking things pretty constantly, so not that restful. Also pretty boring (hello, hospital, you need to up your game with your cable package!). I slept a lot less than I thought I was going to, so lots of sitting around doing nothing but reading WLS blogs and forums. I couldn't drink anything for the whole time until right before release, so I was super thirsty and with dry mouth. So glad I brought chapstick and Biotene mouth spray. I wasn't hungry or anything, as I was getting fluids via IV the whole time, but it was weird not to be able to drink. 


For the leak test, I was wheeled down to the X ray lab and asked to drink whatever the hell nasty stuff shows up on the X ray, and then stood in front of the scanner. I watched live as the liquid went down into the little teeny pouch, did a little whirlpool, and swooped out the bottom and around the rest of the loops of my intestine. One of the surgeons was there to show me what was going on. It was pretty fascinating. So, basically, no doubts they did the surgery: I've seen the evidence! Very cool to see what actually happens when I drink. The nasty liquid led to some truly foul liquid poos, which is OK because I know my guts are working, but it is pretty gross. Similar to the bowel prep for pre-op, I guess.


After the leak test was all good, I went back to my room and was served some broth, apple juice, and chamomile tea. It was freaking delicious after several days of no food (Mexican hospital vegetable broth, 9/10, would recommend). Surprisingly, I was able to consume all of it, and pretty quickly. I was worried that it would hurt or come back up, but no problems whatsoever. Packed up to go, wheeled to the lobby, and into a cab. There was one pothole on the way to the hotel that was a little jarring, but nothing terrible. 


Back in the hotel room, I started fluid intake: water, diet Gatorade, repulsive clear protein Isopure grape nasty stuff, and eventually some wonton broth for dinner. I've been a vegetarian for like 12-13-14? years, long enough that the idea of meat is not very appealing to me, but I'm stuck in a hotel for week in a country where "vegetarian" is not really a thing. I figured sort of clearish chicken broth might be inoffensive enough, but the wonton soup was in a pretty dark beef broth and it really icked me out. I drank it, but with a nasty look on my face. Going to resort to bouillon cubes from home today, in hot water from the coffee machine... ooh, fancy! 


I spent the evening going for little walks around the hotel and sitting and watching streaming videos, feeling pretty good. At bedtime, I got propped up nicely with pillows and went immediately to sleep, waking up at 7am - not too shabby for a lifelong insomniac. I'd had one pain pill before bed, but they're just over the counter something-or-other so no help on the sleep from that quarter. I actually rolled onto my sides to sleep for part of the night, which scared me a bit, but wasn't really painful - just a little strange feeling. I squished a pillow up to my tummy and it was fairly comfortable. I had some weird dreams about eating things I shouldn't - a bit of baguette, some crunchy vegetables. They weren't like "I wish I could have some" dreams; just "oops! I forgot I can't eat that!" I'll try to stay away from the baguettes...


The drain is still in me so I've had to empty that a couple of times. It's pretty gross, but doable. The incisions don't look too bad. I have two to the left of my belly button, one to the right of my belly button, and one IN my belly button. I also have the drain straight up from the belly button. They don't hurt and haven't been leaking or anything. My belly is very poofy from the fluids and the gasses and stuff, so it feels a bit weird, but I assume the swelling will go down soon. 


I actually got up, had a shower, got dressed, and put on makeup this morning, so I feel pretty normal now. I even went to the hotel lobby for breakfast with my husband. Lucky him - Mexican breakfast is awesome: chilaquiles, huevos a la Mexicana, beans, fresh fruits, etc. I had carrot juice, grapefruit juice, and mint tea. It felt very civilized to be up and around and in the restaurant. My husband keeps saying, "I can't believe you just had this surgery - you seem totally normal!" I kind of feel the same way - a lot better than I'd thought I'd be at this point. Very lucky. Some of the women in the Fb group of people who had surgery the same day as me aren't feeling as hale and hearty - I really hope they feel better quickly, and I thank my lucky stars that I feel as good as I do. 


Here I am in the hospital - I'm in for two nights. I feel pretty good, without too much pain. The drain is a bit ooky looking, but otherwise all is fine. As I'm a little loopy still, this will be short, but just thought I'd update with an all clear message. 

The surgery apparently went well. The doctors have been very nice, checking in from time to time. The hospital is very nice and I have my own rather spacious room, complete with sofa bed for the hubby to sleep on. I've been up to walk around several times and showered and stuff, and that seems to be going well. A little dizzy, but not too bad. Mostly just killing time until I get released tomorrow after the leak test (assuming all goes well with that). 

That's it for now - can't believe I actually did this! 


Well, I'm sitting here in my hotel room in Mexico, in between appointments to get ready for surgery tomorrow. I slept like CRAP last night, partly because I'm nervous, partly because I was starving (no intake of anything after 9pm for tests today), and partly because I'm a regular old insomniac who often sleeps like crap. 


I'm actually pretty glad I speak Spanish, to be honest. I'm not with one of the big Tijuana outfits that shepherds you through the whole process, so I'm having to deal with people who are at least nervous about speaking English to me, so Spanish is how I'm proceeding. The hotel is a Holiday Inn Express (a rather nice one - they can very a lot, I know), and the clinic I went to this morning is sort of a normal middlebrow Mexican health clinic. It seems a little more downscale than American medical clinics usually do, but that's just how our two healthcare systems differ. It was clean, everyone was friendly and professional, and the equipment was pretty standard looking. I had to do my health history in Spanish because I admitted that I spoke Spanish, which was a little tricky, but doable. The doctor was nice and spoke fairly carefully to me so I could understand him easily. No, I had no idea what "gall bladder" was in Spanish, but he managed to conjure that one up in English after my blank stare, so we were good. Everything else I managed to get through in my rusty Spanish, even a political discussion with one of the nurses who wanted to know my thoughts on Trump. Lol. 


The tests this morning included urine sample, blood draw, weigh and measure, chest X-ray, ultrasound of said gall bladder, EKG, vision test, and eye, nose and throat stuff. I think that's everything. I was curious since there's just this one day of testing before the procedure, so I'm including that here in case anyone reading is also wondering. It was pretty much standard stuff, I suppose. What was not standard was the Mexican lack of respect for personal stuff that meant that all of my many disrobings took place in the room with whoever was doing the test: *thrust covering gown into my hands* "OK, take off your blouse and bra." Waiting... Nope, she's not leaving. OK, just do it in front of her. This reminded me of shopping for a bikini (in one of my thin intervals) at a Mexican boutique and having the lady come into the changing room with me to shove my boobies into the cups and tug and pull at various bits to check the fit. Personal space? Nope. 


So this afternoon will be at the surgeon's clinic to meet with him and discuss test results and talk about tomorrow. I know that everyone there speaks excellent English because I've talked to them on the phone, so that's won't be awkward. Good thing because the longer this liquid diet goes on, the fuzzier my thinking gets. 


There's a NY Times article that came out today about bariatric surgery. It's very positive, mentioning all of the metabolic changes that happen after bypass and sleeve surgery that don't happen for lap-band or with dieting. It also had info on some long term studies of veterans who underwent WLS, and their 10 year outcomes, which were pretty good. The Times has been running articles on WLS every couple of months lately discussing various aspects of it, which has been interesting to follow. 


However, I again made the mistake of reading the comments. Ugh. Dang smug thin people. They really do consider it to be cheating. And terribly risky. And unproven. And likely to lead to gaining it all back again. (moral retribution from the weight loss gods!) "Why don't these people just ______ instead?" (fill in the blank with your choice of: exercise more, eat a balanced diet, eat low carb, eat paleo, eat "clean," get a personal trainer, learn about nutrition, stop eating junk food, stop drinking diet soda, learn portion control, do intermittent fasting, get a fecal transplant, take probiotics, not get fat in the first place). Everyone has a story about how their cousin/aunt/ex-boyfriend/roommate just _______ (again with the fill in the blank from above) and lost 150 pounds and has kept it off for 15 years. Which we should take to mean that everyone should do exactly what this person's cousin/aunt/ex-boyfriend/roommate did, and there would be harmony in the universe and no one would be fat again. It's like the commenters have the worst reading comprehension skills on planet earth. Note to self: don't read comments. 


I'm honestly starting to feel pretty nervous about tomorrow. I mean, I've made up my mind (and paid the bill ahead of time!) so I feel confident in my decision, but I sort of feel nervous about what if I'm the 1 in 1000 who has terrible complications or something? I know it's unlikely. But still I feel a bit nervous. I'm thinking of asking my husband to hit me over the head with something at bedtime so I can get a bit of sleep! ;)


On the positive side, I am starting to feel like it's a reality that I'm actually going to be losing quite a bit of weight very very very soon. Like I'm planning out in my head how much I will probably have lost by certain points in the next year. I know I can't do that with scientific precision, but thinking like: most people lose 30-50 pounds in their first 2-3 months. Wow, in three months, I'll probably have lost that much. Not like, "I WISH I could" but like, "I'm GOING TO." I've already started the process, I guess - I've lost 20 pounds in the past 5 weeks, so that's a good start. I can kind of feel it, too, like a preview of what's to come. I'm really looking forward to that thin future self. 



Six days from my hot Valentine's date with the surgeon - it won't be romantic, I'm pretty sure, but it will be life changing. Can't say that about EVERY Valentine's Day!


I've been slowly working my way up to the all liquid diet, which starts tomorrow. For the last few days, I've been having protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and just a protein plus vegetables dinner, with a few rounds of broth and sugar free popsicles in between. So far so good. I'm not going crazy. Talk to me in a few days, I guess. From what I can tell, pretty much everyone goes nuts on the all liquid diet. 


My protein shakes are pretty good. The Syntrax Nectar Chocolate Truffle is not bad. Tastes kind of like Slimfast, which I have a... passing familiarity with. My first real "diet" at age 15 was basically Slimfast and a couple of apples a day - super healthy and sustainable, am I right? How did my mother put up with that? Oh, yeah. I was a teenager, and probably fairly unbearable at that time - anything to shut me up, I suppose. Plus, we all thought low fat sugary crap was healthy because it was low fat and low calorie! This is often referred to in the scientific literature as the "Snackwell effect" - when America started to get REALLY overweight. I'm sure if you're reading this, you can guess why ;) Anyhoo, I did manage to lose like 50 pounds on that, over the course of a school year, so yay young me. Until I found myself in a place where Slimfast was unavailable (exchange student in France) and gained it all back over the course of the next year or two.


My mind is like a hamster wheel right now. I'm having a hard time sleeping all the way through the night because my brain can't stop thinking about what's coming up. Some of it is worry, some of it is fantasizing about the "new me" that will emerge, some if it is just trying to figure out the logistics of the whole thing. How much of what when and how often, etc. I suppose it's normal to be so obsessed at this point, but wow, I could do with a good night's sleep all the way through. 


At the same time that all this is going on, I'm in the middle of other life changing decisions: I'm a teacher by trade, but have taken a year off to travel around the US with my husband (he's in the same boat as me career-wise). We weren't happy where we were teaching last year, which was our first year back in the US after a decade of teaching overseas. Now we're trying to decide if we want to stay in the US or go back abroad, and also trying to decide whether we really want to keep teaching or not. Big decisions.


The biggest revelation in my year of travel so far: I am currently too heavy to really have a lot of fun traveling. This is sad because I usually love to travel. In the end, this is what has really pushed me to pursue WLS. I can't hike or bike like I used to (I can do it but it's not FUN), and even just touristing around is tiring and, well, not FUN. I have found that I'm avoiding all the fun opportunities because I'm either worried about being too heavy to enjoy things, or I'm just embarrassed about myself. It sucks. On the other hand, having a bunch of time to be able to recover will be a plus. I don't need to go to hiring fairs for like a month after the surgery, so I should be feeling a lot better by then. 


OK, I'm off to enjoy my last day of food for a while. I'm totally ready for this, though, so I'm not having a "food funeral" or "last supper" or anything like that. Not sure where this motivation came from, but I just don't feel like I need it. This will change in the coming weeks, I know, but for the moment, my mind is in the zone. 



Again from Blogger, but my last one from there. I'll continue here in real-time from now on.

So, my NUT is only having me do 5 days of pre-op diet for whatever reason. In my close observation of zillions of forums, it seems that there is tremendous variety in how long surgeons want their patients to do pre-op diets for, so I'm not worried about this. However, I am DYING to get this process going, so I started a 1200 calorie a day, high protein, low carb diet five weeks before. 12 days out, I started having a protein shake instead of my lunch, which sends my calorie count down significantly to around 900. I figure if I do this until the actual 5 day pre-op diet, I'll be more mentally ready to do that, as well as to do the post-op stages. I'm shooting for a little weight loss before surgery day, as well, as I hope that will make the recovery process a bit easier. I've lost 13 pounds in three weeks, so that's a relief. Why didn't I do this earlier???

Well, I suppose that I DID do this earlier - I've lost large amounts of weight before - several times! However, since I started looking at statistics for people who lose large amounts of weight, it's very unlikely that I would ever keep it off without WLS. Something like 5% of people who lose large amounts of weight are able to keep it off for 5+ years. Those are awful odds, and involve so much heartache and struggle. For every person who is successful, there are 19 who are not and gain it all back, usually with interest. That is so painful, not to mention hard on your body and ultimately probably decreases the odds of your being successful the next time.

The real clincher was a study I read about that a doctor did on the former contestants of The Biggest Loser. Now, this is a show that I hesitate to admit that I watch on occasion. It seems like a celebration of fat-shaming (No clothes for the fatties until they lose some weight and can earn their dignity back! Exercise to the puke so the viewers know you're doing penitence for your bad choices! Push the fatties to exercise through an injury for the sake of entertainment!) and is also a reality show, which means it's fake. That didn't stop me from watching the complete season a couple of times :( Anyway, the study showed that basically none of TBL contestants are successful in keeping the weight off permanently unless they get WLS. Their bodies may be thin, they may eat very calorie restricted diets, and they may exercise obsessively, but their metabolisms are so messed up that they still gain the weight back. When I read this, I died inside. If these people can't do it, how could I??? They have millions of people holding them accountable. And I have not been able to muster up enough courage to really try dieting since then. Why try? It's heartbreaking to work hard, see some success, even a lot of success, and then gain it all back again eventually. Disappointment. Shame. Disgust.

A year ago or so, I started to think seriously about WLS. It seemed really extreme, but I knew that my problem is getting pretty extreme, too. I just couldn't imagine "giving up" so much for the rest of my life. I know a couple of people who have had WLS (one about three years ago, so far so good; one about ten years ago, also doing well), but I looked at their new lifestyles as being too restrictive. Then, over the course of the past year, I have seen how restrictive MY life has become: I don't really have fun doing much anymore because I'm too fat to have fun. Either I'm too fat to do something period, like hiking, swimming, or biking, or I am too fat to enjoy it, like dancing, going to amusement parks, or shopping. Hmm, I wonder why I'm depressed. My life has become restrictive through me gaining weight - which lifestyle is more restrictive?

When I finally made the decision to go ahead with surgery, it was like a (prepare for pun) huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Seriously, it was like I had taken my problem out of my pocket and placed it in someone else's hands. I don't mean that I think the surgeon is going to solve all my problems himself - wow, I would expect to pay quite a lot for that service! I mean that I felt like I could quit beating myself up about my failures, and could instead focus on getting a hold of this tool that would enable me to lose weight permanently if I worked at it. I just suddenly was motivated. Quit eating junk? No problem! Start tracking all food intake? Sure. Get up and take a walk? Let's go. Stop drinking alcohol? Done. Go low-carb? Absolutely. Hard cap of 1200 calories a day? Let's do it! It was like I flipped a switch in my head. I hope it stays this way for a while. I am totally motivated and can't imagine "cheating." 


Again from Blogger, Feb 2, 2017

My Baritastic App informs me that I have 11 more days until SD. I am getting really antsy for it to just arrive so I don't have to fret about it anymore. I'm spending A LOT OF TIME on WLS forums and blogs reading everything I can get my eyes on about how people deal with this. This is good because 1) it helps me feel like it's a real thing coming up in my near real actual future, 2) it passes the time doing something that seems productive (learning about people's experiences with RNY), and 3) it helps me to focus my nervous energy. It has some down sides, too...

I have been reading one particular blogger, Bugdocmom, because she has a TON of posts (300!) unlike a lot of WLS bloggers, who seem to write 5-10 posts and give up, which is human nature because consistent blogging is hard. She is also a great writer, and includes so much detail that I can picture myself in her position. However, as I read through the posts spoiler alert she has some extreme WLS related health issues which made her life really hard for a long time. I was in a bit of a shock when I got to that point in the blog. Like I said, she has 300 posts up on the blog, so by that time, I had been reading her posts for days, and I had become a little emotionally involved in her progress (and then her downward health spiral). Beyond just personal worry ("Oh no! I hope that doesn't happen to me!"), it seemed like a really big reality check: things can go wrong. Those statistics you get from your surgeon are not just numbers. There are people whose systems do not do well, and those people suffer. WLS is a radical and extreme solution to a radical and extreme problem. So that cast a pall over my reading activity. I gave up and picked up a trashy novel with no overweight people in it at all. It was a necessary escape. Bugdocmom, I hope things are going well for you now, and I thank you for the very real reality you blogged for all of us. Very brave. Thank you.

I woke up this morning and was pleased to see a thread on the Baritastic Fb page asking whether anyone out there had NOT had problems in moving through the different post-op food stages. Thankfully, many people responded that they had no issues at all. I remembered that negative news causes fear because it sticks out so prominently in our minds, even in the face of tidal waves of positive news.  We remember plane crashes and don't pay attention to the millions of trouble-free flights that land each day. It's human nature. We are terrible at understanding odds. My odds at being successful in this journey are very good. My odds at being healthy if I don't get this surgery are not good. I need to focus on that.


Again from Blogger, Jan 29, 2017
I've been a vegetarian for maybe 13 years or so. Vegetarian like I don't eat any animals, but I eat dairy and eggs. Every once in a while I eat some seafood, usually out of total desperation if there's really nothing else. I'm a vegetarian primarily for anti-animal-cruelty reasons - I looked into factory farming practices, and I decided that I wanted to do my own small part in not perpetuating that. I'm not judgmental of people who eat meat. I do not "evangelize." I just choose not to eat meat.

That said, I'm starting to worry about whether I can eat enough protein while not too many carbs after surgery if I don't resort to animal protein of some sort. I usually eat a lot of beans, tofu and veggie burgers such for my protein, but these protein sources have some carbs in them - and more carbs than I think I should be eating after surgery.

I don't eat seafood mostly because of the negative environmental effects of overfishing, fish farming, and shrimp farming. These are pretty serious problems in the world, and I don't want to contribute to those problems. I like seafood. I just think it's better if the world eats less of this stuff. But what about me after surgery? What if I can't lose as much weight as I need because I'm eating too many carbs?

Also, what about eating out? As a vegetarian, the usual restaurant stand-bys are veggie pasta, veggie burgers, and pizza. All three of those (except just the burger patty) are not going to work after surgery. If I could have a salad with fish on top, or some fish and vegetables, restaurants would be doable. Otherwise, I just don't know what I would eat at all.

Anyway, I'm struggling with this issue right now. Being a vegetarian post-op sounds hard. Eating fish would make my life easier. But making that change would be a huge identity shift for me, not to mention seeming hypocritical. 

Again, from my Blogger blog, Jan 29, 2017.


I've been thin before, so I know what kinds of things to look forward to. These are things that have slowly changed as I've gained weight, so slowly that I don't notice until they've changed completely and are in the rear view mirror. Speaking of rear views and mirrors...


  1. Looking in the mirror and being pleased with myself
  2. Checking myself out in the mirror to find the good aspects, rather than avoiding mirrors so I don't have to see how bad I look
  3. Having the energy to be busy all day doing physical things
  4. Feeling confident to do new activities 
  5. Looking forward to seeing people I haven't seen in a while instead of avoiding them so they don't see how heavy I've gotten
  6. Looking forward to meeting new people because I know they will treat me well (I remember becoming thin previously and being surprised at how nice everyone is to thin people - thin people are treated better by nearly everyone and in nearly every circumstance)
  7. Feeling strong and healthy enough to do physically challenging things like running, skiing, hiking
  8. Going shopping for clothes in the regular section and being picky about what I buy instead of buying three different colors of everything that fits OK 
  9. Feeling more comfortable in airline seats (I mean, they're never really comfortable, but there's a big difference between squeezing in and having the arm rests push against my hips and thighs and just sitting in an uncomfortable seat)
  10. Wearing jeans - I look awful in them when I'm heavy. Haven't worn them in years now.
  11. Going swimming. I love swimming. I hate how I look in a bathing suit right now. That means I never go swimming anymore.
  12. Being happy to take pictures of myself
  13. Feeling like I'm a healthy person - I worry about my health if I don't lose weight now. 
  14. Having reasonable sized boobs. They're huge now. I hate them. They're uncomfortable and look awful, like some prehistoric fertility goddess. Blerk.
  15. Going to the gym. I don't go to the gym because I'm embarrassed now. I don't want to be that person who gets stared at (but bless that brave soul!)
  16. Not getting winded walking up stairs
  17. Riding my bike. I love riding my bike, but more weight = very uncomfortable seat. So I don't do it.
  18. Feeling comfortable in hot weather. Not all sweaty and sticky and abraded.
  19. Having my wedding ring fit properly. It goes on, but it's tight and uncomfortable now. 
  20. Being told that I look nice. People have been avoided saying that, even out of politeness, because I've gained a bunch of weight in the last 3-5 years. 
  21. Wearing stylish clothes instead of dressing in a frumpy manner
  22. Tiring myself out with a good hard workout and feeling good about it
  23. Going on walking/biking vacations. I've been on some walking vacations in Europe and no way in hell could I do that now. Too hard. I want to do that again, and I'd like to take a biking vacation, too. 
  24. Being as comfortable as possible :S in an airline seat. I lived abroad for a long time and traveled by plane frequently - like long haul trips 8-16 hours. It got worse and worse and worse - arms crossed in front of me, hips squeezed between the armrests, ugh. I want to FIT in an airline seat with room to spare. I actively avoid travel now because of this.
  25. Riding on roller coasters. The last time I went on one (maybe 2-3 years ago?) the bar was tight over my thighs. I haven't gone since because I know it wouldn't close and I don't want to deal with that kind of embarrassment.
  26. Going to the beach. I love the beach. I don't go to the beach now because I'm embarrassed at how I look in beach clothes. 
  27. Wearing skirts/dresses without spanx to keep my thighs from rubbing together. Spanx are hot and sweaty.
  28. Being confident that my @*# will fit easily into whatever chair I want to sit in. Recently, some cafe/outdoor chairs have sort of pinched my hips/thighs when I sit in them. That sucks.
  29. Wearing tall boots. I'm not wearing those wide-calf things. They don't look nice to me. 
  30. Wearing form-fitting clothes. I don't wear them now because they don't hide the flab.
  31. Wearing sleeveless blouses. My arms are big and flabby. I wear sleeves at all times.
  32. Stepping on the scale and not wanting to scream
  33. Going to the doctor when I should - not being afraid of facing the judgement so avoiding visits.
  34. Not having my bra straps cut valleys in my shoulders - and wearing bras that could remotely be considered "cute" 
  35. Going scuba diving. I got certified years ago, but quit because wetsuits. 
  36. Sitting on the grass on a warm sunny day comfortably. Getting up and down from the grass comfortably.
  37. Wearing my wedding ring. It's currently in a drawer as it cuts into my fingers too much.
  38. Getting my picture taken without the fear of looking awful. Not cringing upon seeing said photos.
  39. Taking the stairs because I can and it feels good. 
  40. Respecting myself
That's it for now. I'm sure I'll get to 100 by the time I have surgery. 

I started this on Blogger a week or so ago - I'm jamming the first several posts on here (TTF) all in one day.

- Jan 28, 2017 -

Well, it's official, I guess, since I have a surgeon, I have a date, and I've paid a deposit on it. I'm scheduled for gastric bypass on February 14, 2017, which my Baritastic app informs me is 17 days from now.

My story is a little different from many WLS patients' since I'm doing this without insurance (self-funded). I'm going to Monterrey, Mexico for the surgery. The surgeon has been doing WLS for many years and has thousands of surgeries under his belt, so I'm not concerned about his expertise. He's well qualified and there are tons of great reviews about him online. I also used to live in Mexico for a time, so I don't feel uncomfortable about going there for medical tourism. I know lots of Americans and Mexicans who've had medical procedures in Mexico so it doesn't feel particularly exotic or strange to me, I guess.

I'm going this route because my insurance doesn't cover WLS. The price in Mexico isn't terribly high (1/3 of the US price), and I feel fortunate that my finances allow me the luxury of going this route. I know that is not the story for everyone. I wish it was.

What this means in practical terms is that the timespan between deciding, choosing a surgeon, and the actual surgery date will be about a month and a half. I did a ton of research beforehand, but was still undecided until recently - I kept telling myself that maybe I could do it on my own, just exercising and dieting, since I'd done that before (many times!! lol). This is while I actually KNOW that my odds of doing it on my own are very low - like 5% of obese people who diet down to a healthy weight can keep it off.  I know I have a hard time with that. I tend to regain even while eating 1200 calories a day and exercising like a mad demon (10+ hours per week). I am, at heart, a practical person who likes to make realistic decisions based on logic and facts, so a few days of reading reports on medical studies did the trick. I also read ten million WLS blogs and journals (thank you, people who've gone before me!) and decided to take the plunge.

I've been on a low-carb 1200 calorie a day diet since I made the decision to do the surgery. This has been going well. I feel motivated and it's nice to have some success on my own before the surgery. It's also building (re-building?) the habit of tracking everything I eat and making sure I make good choices. I've lost about 10 pounds doing this, and I think I'll lose about another 10 pounds before surgery. I'll keep doing what I'm doing until I have to start the pre-op diet, which is only about a week long for me for whatever reason. At the moment, I'm feeling a little better physically and a lot better mentally. The idea that surgery will help me lose so much weight is amazing and extremely motivating. I feel full of hope about my health and well-being for the first time in a very long time.