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About this blog

This is my WLS journey.

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Jen581791

Guatemala was amazing. It's such an incredible country, full of natural beauty and vibrant indigenous culture, and the people are extremely welcoming. It's very poor, and has a tragic history, but there's a lot of joy there nonetheless. After 15 years (my last trip there), some things have changed quite a lot: more tourism, better tourist infrastructure, not so off-the-beaten-path feeling.

NSVs of the trip:

  • Sitting on a plane for hours is a lot less awful at my current weight. I didn't feel like I was overflowing onto anyone else and my hips had room. That was fantastic. 
  • Being really active was soooooo much easier - from climbing Mayan pyramids to hiking to kayaking (particularly getting in and out of the kayak!) to just plain old walking a lot, I was able to enjoy the trip to its fullest due to my better physical health.
  • I look pretty good in the trip photos! I have avoided being photographed for a while now due to hating how I look, so this is great. Lots of photos, and I look *fine* in them. No cringing.
  • I was able to eat. Not perfectly on plan, but generally enough food, and not much in the way of junk - a couple of french fries here and there, a few tortilla chips. Bars and shakes were necessary to keep the protein up. I ate a lot of eggs and beans and queso fresco and avocado.
  • I'm feeling kind of normal-sized now - I certainly want to lose more weight, but I feel like an overweight person who doesn't stand out instead of like a fat person who people might stare at. This helped me to just feel more relaxed and happy the whole time. 

I was gone for 17 days and didn't weigh myself for that whole stretch, which of course completely messes up my beautiful beautiful precious spreadsheet. I was gone on my 5 month surgiversary (the 14th) so I don't have a spot-on five month milestone (sad emoji). So, this morning I weighed in at 201.8, which is down 8 pounds from the day I left - not too shabby for a vacation! That puts me sooooooo close to onederland. I was kind of secretly hoping I'd have passed that threshold by the time I got back, but 10 pounds in two weeks is a big ask. That puts my (a little bit more than) month's loss at 15 pounds. That's about how much I've mostly been losing per month, but now that I'm down almost 90 pounds (what????!!!!) it's a lot more, proportionally speaking, so it's more obvious. I've got about 50 pounds to go until my current goal weight - I'll see as I get closer how I feel about it as a final ending point. A little higher? A little lower? Secretly hoping a little lower.

Eating was a bit of a pain in the butt. I got really sick of the bars and shakes. Breakfast was easy - the typical breakfast in Guatemala is black beans, eggs, queso fresco, fried plantains, and tortillas (plus maybe avocado). Get rid of the tortillas (I tried them but sadly they kind of gum up my stomach and make it so I don't eat any more) and I'm good. I even ate some of the fried plantains most days - the oil didn't make me dump, and I was needing the calories, since my food intake was pretty low for most of the trip. Lunch or dinner in restaurants every stinking day was a bit more of a slog. I could eat vegetarian most places, since Guatemala is on the hippie backpacker trail, but vegetarian and low-carb are mostly mutually exclusive there, as with most places. I ate a fair number of salads with a bit of cheese and/or egg, I ate the toppings off a slice of pizza a couple of times, I attempted felafel once (the crispy nature of it just DID NOT SETTLE and I was so lucky as to see it again very soon after dinner), and I ate the tuna out of a couple of tuna sandwiches. I had some shrimp and some fish. It was a bit tedious trying to figure out how to work the menus, though. It did make me realize that I can have fun on vacation without being very excited about what I was eating, which is great.

I drank alcohol twice: one glass of white wine for my birthday in Antigua, which knocked me for a loop, but it was OK. I also had a sip of "caldo de frutas" (a brandy sort of drink that is bright pink from hibiscus flowers and has fruit chunks marinating in it) in a small town, accompanied by a bite of the fruit. I kind of had to - it was being served to me by the man who made it, and he really wanted me to like it. The bite of fruit had enough alcohol and sugar in it that I feared a dumping episode was on its way :blink: It wasn't, I was OK, but it certainly messed up my Spanish noun/adjective agreements for an hour or so (I was having a long conversation with my guide on church architecture and history - he was laughing and correcting me, fun for all).

Exercise was hit or miss. Some days I walked a LOT (25,000 steps on my biggest day). Some days I spent a lot of time in various modes of transport. Looking at my Fitbit data, I got at least 10,000 steps almost every day. Pretty good. Mostly the good thing was that I was able to keep up with my much more physically fit friends, even when it was 95 degrees with 90% humidity! I would have died trying to do this vacation 6 months ago. Actually, I just never would have gone :(

We spent several days walking around Mayan sites in the Peten (on the Yucatan Peninsula). We climbed to the top of Temple IV to watch the sun rise one day - gorgeous. We listened to howler monkeys shrieking in the trees and saw toucans and parrots flying overhead in the jungle. We toured around highland villages, watched locals devote themselves to a Mayan/Catholic hybrid local saint (Maximon) by giving him money and making him smoke cigarettes and drink the local firewater. We explored the many villages of Lake Atitlan by boat, observing the language and cultural differences between them, despite their proximity to each other in their unique location under three volcanoes. We stayed in a tiny isolated village with no cars and listened to the dogs bark, children play, turkeys gobble, roosters crow, and watched a massive lightning storm burst to life above the volcanoes across the lake from us. We entered 500 year old churches and saw the ancient saints dressed in Mayan clothing, just like the worshippers. We visited several markets and ate street food at stalls with local farmers, conversing in Spanish, which was a second language to all of us, as they are mostly Mayan speakers.  We watched a volcano erupt. We spent many long hours in good conversation. It was a great vacation! 

Honestly, the simple fact that I went on this vacation at all is an NSV. I kept thinking that the whole time. 

 

 

 

 

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Jen581791

Flying

 

Know what I hate? I freaking hate flying. Everything about it sucks, but it's so much worse if you're fat. I spend a lot of time before each flight worrying about how small the seat will be, about whether the person next to me will be annoyed that I sort of overflow into their space, about whether my hips will be so scrunched into the seat (man, airline seats have gotten smaller in the last couple decades!) that they will be a bit bruised feeling when I get off the flight. I worry about people giving me the side eye when I get into my seat. I stress about how uncomfortable it is to spend 15 hours with my arms crossed so I don't impinge on my neighbors' space. I remember overheard conversations or internet comment sections about fat people flying and how horrible the awful rude fat people are to subject all the other passengers to their horrible awful fatness. I hate flying as a fat person so much that I have not done it in almost two years. Me, a person who usually travels a LOT! Know what I'm doing at the end of this week? Flying. On purpose. To go on vacation. I'm still fat, but I'm a lot less fat, so I know that I will have a less bad time. Flying is horrible, but I will be so happy to fit better in the seat. Not so happy that I will enjoy flying (blerk) but happy enough to do it again. 

I've done a little shopping to get ready for this trip, and it's been... a mixed bag. On one hand, I can go into the straight sizes part of the store and not worry that nothing will fit me (well, I worry, but stuff fits, even if it looks like it'll be too small). On the other hand, when I get it on, I am faced with the voices in my head that are always very loud in changing rooms. I look *better* than before (oh, so much better!) but I still don't look *good* to myself. The good news is that I feel a little more detached from my appearance than I usually do: I feel like this is how I look today, but I know that next week, next month, next year I will look different. So I feel like I'm judging a work in progress, rather than judging the very essence of who I am, which is an improvement. 

I've already had to bail out of some plans set up by one of my travel companions. I'm going with my husband and another couple we frequently travel with, and the other couple is, well, much sportier and fitter than we are (particularly than I am). They will be climbing a volcano. I will not. It's an all day sort of deal, like hours and hours of hiking, starting out at like 8500 feet (2500m) in elevation, and I really really know that I do not have that in me right now. It felt sad to have to explain that to my friend, but at the same time, I know that because of my WLS, I will be able to do stuff like that in the future. As of six months ago, my future didn't look like it was headed in an "improving" sort of direction, health-wise, so that's a good thing. 

I've got two flavors of Syntrax Nectar individual packs and two boxes of protein bars to take with me, so I should be set for protein intake. I'm going to Guatemala, and will have no opportunity to buy that stuff there. I have an idea of what awaits because I've been there a couple of times before: food should be fine, lots of beans and eggs and cheese to be had. I've got my vitamins ready to go. I think with all this WLS stuff, I'm going to have very little room in my luggage for my other stuff!

I think it'll be a good trip. I have a ton more energy now than I have in a long while, and I'm able to move around so much more easily in my body. I have a more positive outlook about things, and I don't feel so self-conscious. 

I'm not going to be able to weigh myself for 16 days. SIXTEEN DAYS :blink: Yes, I know how many of you feel about daily weighings, but they are my jam. I also won't be able to log my food every day since I will be without internet at some points. I'll be flying blind for more than two weeks, and that scares the heck out of me. Logically it shouldn't, but I think we left the world of logic behind a few months ago. I'm curious to see whether no scale and limited food logging will feel freeing or frightening. Could go either way.

Wish me luck! I'm a little nervous about the flying.

 

Jen581791

I was out for a walk yesterday and this thought came to me: I am living in my own Biggest Loser season. 

I am not a reality show watcher by any means. In fact, BL is the only one I've ever watched a whole episode of, but it was a guilty pleasure for me around Season 6 and 7, I guess. I was watching it at a time when I was going to the gym a lot and watching what I was eating (maybe WW? maybe low carb? maybe 5:2 fasting?), and I figured the show was perhaps good motivation. It was astounding to watch these very heavy people come to the ranch in the first few episodes and exercise as hard as they could, which wasn't much since they were pretty out of shape, and keep going and going until they collapsed/puked/cried/cursed/were injured. I was horrified and fascinated. These people were literally working their a$$es off. They didn't pay as much attention to the eating, surprise surprise, since it makes for a lot less dramatic TV. 

The appeal of watching a dozen or so people totally remake their bodies very quickly was strong. These people were losing 80, 100, 150 pounds over the course of less than a year, and they were so happy and excited about it. They looked better, of course, but they also moved better - running, hiking, swimming, biking. They seemed happier. How amazing. 

I thought that although I would never do that (hello, fat shaming - why make them wear skimpier clothing in the early episodes and let them put on more clothes the thinner they get? because we like to see them look awful, that's why - they have to earn their dignity), maybe it would be the only way I could do that. I mean, 100% focus for a year or however long, everything working toward this one goal. Trainers. Physicians. Equipment. Focus. Focus. Focus. 

I kind of wished I could be on BL. Not really like I actually wanted to be on the show, but like wishful thinking - I wish I could do something with such magical results. Maybe a magic pill? A midnight deal with the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi? 

I knew I could lose the weight. I'd done it before, several times - hey, I looked and felt great at 140 lbs! But I knew that keeping it off was the problem, and these BL contestants really seemed like they had made over their lives. With all that focus on diet and exercise for a year, and such great results, certainly they could be successful at keeping it off...

Nope. They're not. These two articles were my first Aha! moment. They're articles about a scientific study that has been done to examine the outcomes of former BL contestants, and they're a pretty good, although depressing, read. I've posted these articles before on my blog, but they really were a beacon shining in the night for me.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/health/biggest-loser-weight-loss.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/insider/research-scientist-finds-inspiration-in-reality-tv-show.html

BL contestants don't keep it off. Or, rather, a few of them do, but for the most part the ones who keep it off have WLS. Even the big winners gain it back. Metabolism levels of the contestants plummeted during the year they were losing, but although doctors thought they would pick back up a year, two years down the road, they didn't. A 180 pound man who'd lost a bunch of weight might have to consume 400 or 500 or even 800 fewer calories per day even six years later than a man who'd always weighed 180 pounds. Talk about a punch in the gut. Good luck keeping it off with those numbers.

These next two articles pushed me in the direction of WLS, as well. They talk about reasons that WLS works when diets don't (hint: some of it has to do with metabolism).

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/26/bariatric-surgery-the-solution-to-obesity

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/well/why-weight-loss-surgery-works-when-diets-dont.html

So, at that point, I was convinced. A bit less than a year later, I had my own WLS. Fast forward a bit more than four months...

My own results are getting to BL sorts of numbers. I've lost almost 80 pounds in five months (one month pre-op plus the four post-op). I can move around better. I'm walking and hiking. I just feel better. So, am I in my own BL season? Yes and no. 

Yes, I've lost a bunch of weight super fast. Yes, I'm looking way better and feeling way better. 

However, I am certainly not living like the BL contestants: I don't exercise until I puke/cry/collapse, I'm not hungry (thank goodness), I don't feel like I'm being punished, and I actually stand a decent chance of keeping it off long term. It all feels a lot easier than BL looks on TV, weirdly enough. To be fair, I had to have my guts rearranged to get to this point, but I feel fine now, and I'm living my life. 

I found my magic pill, or my deal with the devil, or whatever. It was WLS. No need for Jillian shrieking at me to get back on the treadmill. No need to cry it out with Bob. No getting kicked off the ranch if I lost less than the other contestants. I'm eating low carb and exercising a fair bit, but to an enjoyable degree. It's good. I'm good. It's working. It still feels a little like magic, though.

Jen581791

Hooray! It's been four months! This has been the longest four months of my life, accompanied by the quickest change. I am so happy I had WLS. Best decision ever.

Here's a little data breakdown:

Pre-op loss of one month:     19 pounds

Loss since surgery:                54.2 pounds

Total loss so far:                    73.2 pounds

Left to lose:                            66.8 pounds

Excess weight lost:                52.3%

Total body weight lost:           25.2%

Monthly losses:                      19 / 15.6 / 10.8 / 13.2 / 14.6

Miles walked on Fitbit:           360 (bought Fitbit April 15)

Steps logged on Fitbit:          759,096 (what?!)

I have no idea how many clothes sizes I've lost, since most of my clothes from before were comfortably stretchy knit sort of things that are very "forgiving." They aren't fitting anymore, but I also haven't really gone shopping yet because I'm just hanging out at the beach where I don't know anyone but my husband, so I kind of don't care ;)  I have some shopping planned in a couple of weeks when I have to go back to civilization and dress like a regular person again. 

Right now, I'm in a strange in-between place, much much thinner than before (see above!), but also still much heavier than I'd like. I don't look good to myself, but I do look much better. I feel like I should look better than I do for how much weight I've lost, but hey. I've still got a ways to go. 

Very excited to keep on keeping on. My monthly losses have not slowed yet, and in fact this past month was a good one for totals. Fingers crossed that stays true for a few more months :)

 

 

Jen581791

It's coming up on Week 17, otherwise known as Month 4. I feel like I'm in a good place in terms of having a pretty solid routine going. I'm still not hungry at all (thank goodness) but I'm getting to know my Pouch Signals and the Limits of the Pouch: I'm still keeping an eye on the clock to make sure I get my food in, but I can really tell when I need food, and I can tell when I should stop eating. I get this sort of empty feeling when I need food, which usually happens after I exercise (or sometimes during! I've started bringing string cheese with me when I'm on a long walk). When I'm eating, I eat pretty slowly and can feel it when I'm getting to my limit. I can eat almost a cup of soft stuff like yogurt or cottage cheese, but much less solid stuff like veggie "meat" or fish - about 3 oz. of that. I've eaten too much a couple of times and felt uncomfortable afterwards - this was due to eating too fast and not catching the signals. I don't seem to have any of the hiccuping, or runny nose, or sneezing, or whatever other weird signals that some post-op people get.

Here's a typical day of food for me right now, for anyone who might be interested:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1/4 cup berries

Lunch: protein shake with Fairlife milk (Syntrax Nectar is my go to shake - others I've tried have been less good. I like the vanilla)

Snack: 1/3 cup cottage cheese + 1/4 cup fake meat taco meat + salsa <-- my awesome go-to snack right now - my fav brand of fake meat crumbles to make taco meat with is Beyond Meat

Sometimes I have a string cheese, too.

Sometimes instead I have a deli slice of cheese and a slice of fake lunch meat (Tofurkey).

Dinner: veggie burger or tofu or veggie sausage or (sometimes) fish or shrimp, with a bit of veggies like broccoli or sweet potatoes. I still feel really weird eating seafood after being a vegetarian for so long, but it's an easy way to get in a lot of protein. I kind of wrinkle my nose a bit at it.

This works out to between 600-800 calories, with 70-90 grams of protein. Occasionally I eat 900, with 100g of protein, but it feels like too much food (I do it intentionally to shake things up a bit). It feels like I'm eating all the time, but I think that's just because I eat slowly. I'm 100% on not drinking for 30 minutes (usually 45) after eating - it's becoming a habit.

I'm walking a lot - like an average of 15000 steps per day. I've been doing 9 mile walks on the beach a lot, which is very enjoyable, but I'm starting to get blisters on my feet just from walking so much, I think. I walked 187 miles in the past month, according to the Fitbit (what? that's insane), which works out to over 6 miles a day. My poor little feet need to toughen up, though. They're always the weakest link in my walking/hiking. All of this walking is making me feel GREAT! I really feel stronger, all of my muscles are getting more toned, and I have a lot more energy. I imagine that carving three hours out of my day every day once I am gainfully employed again will be pretty difficult, but I bet I can do two, especially since my food oriented time is greatly decreased and I'm not going to be sitting down and having a glass of wine after work every day... the odds of exercising after a glass of wine are approaching zero.

I feel like I'm not striving to be invisible anymore. In my years as a thin/normal-sized woman, having someone look at me in public was usually a positive thing: it led to positive interaction, or at least neutral non-interaction. In my years as a heavy woman, having someone look at me has mostly been a negative thing, and this is partly due to societal feelings about heavy women and partly due to my own shame and self-loathing about being heavy. It's a two-way street.

Being noticed in public doesn't generally lead to positive interactions for heavy women. Having seen how this works from both sides makes this difference very clear - society is a lot nicer to thinner people. This isn't a pretty truth, but it's how things work. My strategy for dealing with this has been to adopt invisibility - flowy, drapey clothes, no eye contact, general blending in. I'm starting to feel like I don't need to do this as much. It's a good feeling, and I'm looking forward to feeling more comfortable as time goes on.

I sort of wish I could just fast forward a few months, so I could just be normal weight already, but I don't think that's likely to happen. I still keep feeling really impatient even though the whole process is going pretty quickly. I know the second half of the weight-loss phase will be a bit more enjoyable than the first half just because everything I do right now is a bit more pleasant since I'm thinner and happier now, and that's only going to get better.

 

 

Jen581791

I'm one pound away from halfway to my arbitrarily chosen goal weight. It's been four and a half months, so this feels like a real victory for me. Halfway there is some major progress, and I think that if I could go back and talk to my five or six month ago self, she would cry with happiness. While I don't feel *satisfied* with my body yet (are any of us ever really satisfied? There are entire industries devoted to making us dissatisfied with them), I am feeling a million times better about it. I feel like I'm getting my SELF back. The self that I like and the self that knows how to enjoy life.

I'm feeling comfortable in my skin again. I am happy to look in the mirror and I can see my progress - I'm looking very noticeably thinner. My clothes, while pretty baggy, look much better on me. I feel like I don't really stand out as a very heavy person. Well, as long as I'm not hanging out with swimsuit models, anyway. I actually have a friend who went to Hawaii with her husband and a few of his friends who were married to actual swimsuit models. She had to go on a vacation to Hawaii with swimsuit models. Can you imagine??? Anyway, I'm not THAT level of comfortable with my body, but it's getting a lot better. My energy levels are up: I feel a lot less inclined to sit around and a lot more inclined to get up and go do something. Part of this is due to being less depressed about myself, less desirous of hiding myself away from the world, and less apt to be embarrassed about how I look, but part of it is just having more energy.

My body moves around more comfortably. I can sit comfortably in many different positions. My legs don't go to sleep when I'm in bed. My feet don't hurt so much when I'm standing for a long time. Walking uphill is so much easier. I get out of breath less often. Going out and doing something active sounds like a good idea instead of torture. I can walk long distances without getting too tired, and I do so almost every day. My Fitbit hits 10,000 steps nearly every day, and many days it hits over 20,000. That's 10 miles! I'm fortunate in that I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment (waiting for a job to start) so I can devote three hours a day to walking. Although my life will not always accommodate three hours of exercise a day (!), I am determined to keep exercise as an important part of my life.

Food has become a necessary but not particularly interesting part of my life. This is partially due to the taste/smell issues I've experienced both just before and since surgery: not much tastes or smells like it used to, and most things smell and taste much worse. Just a couple of months before surgery, I had a really bad cold that knocked out maybe 75% of my sense of smell, and from the reading I've done, if it hasn't come back by now, it probably won't. This dampened my ability to taste, as well. My first symptom was finding that the tastes of beer and wine were pretty awful to me - bitter and sour, respectively, without any of the nuance that makes them taste good normally. Then, immediately after surgery, I noticed that almost all food smelled and tasted different. Everything that has a lot of protein smells and tastes the same (kind of yucky). Everything dairy smells and tastes the same (also kind of yucky). Anything with bitter undertones smells like the purest essence of bitterness - like chewing aspirin. Sweet stuff tastes gaggingly sweet. Most fruit and many vegetables taste pretty good, but just less strongly than before.

I'm not sure if this will last a long time or not - I'm kind of hoping it does, though. It makes it very easy to not eat anything I shouldn't. It also makes it easy to sideline food and remove it from my immediate focus. This is the first time in my life that my thoughts haven't revolved around food, either the pursuit of it or depriving myself of it. I know people who just aren't that interested in food, and I've always wondered what it would be like to be in their heads. Now I think I know. I just feel fairly indifferent toward food now, which is an extremely powerful feeling during this initial weight loss phase. My taste and smell may come back eventually, although I don't think they will ever quite be the same as before. That's OK with me. I realize that my extreme smell and taste changes put me on the extreme edge of outliers in the WLS world, so if you're reading this trying to decide whether to have surgery or not, and my story freaks you out, I wouldn't worry much about it if I were you. It was sort of a perfect storm of events in my case.

My outlook on life is pretty good right now: I'm planning things for my future that I wouldn't have several months ago. The future looks bright. I'm excited about it. I understand the work necessary to get to and stay at whatever weight I eventually reach (I understand that a goal weight set before surgery is not necessarily where my body will end up settling down), and I accept that work. It is worth it. I am worth it.

Halfway there.

**UPDATE** It's the next day and I'm officially there: halfway! Yay! 

 

 

 

Jen581791

 

OK, it’s official, I’ve become addicted to TTF. I’m staying at the beach in Washington state right now, and am having spotty access to the internet - the wifi has been down for days, and I can only get 3G if I’m in one corner of the bedroom, standing on one foot with my right hand holding my phone over my head at a certain angle. So, of course, I’m in the corner in the bedroom, on one foot, with my right hand holding my phone over my head… Must. Read. New. TTF. Posts. 

It’s been almost 3 ½ months, and I’m getting in a good routine with food and exercise. I’m going for a long walk every day. Yesterday I hit 22,000 steps on my Fitbit (woo hoo!), which means I walked almost 10  miles. The beach here is like 20 uninterrupted miles long, so no limits there! ;) I’m figuring out a good food pattern, also: greek yogurt and berries for breakfast, shake for lunch, cottage cheese or fake meat lunch meat and cheese for a snack, substantial protein for dinner (veggie burger, fish, shrimp) plus a bit of vegetable. With this routine in place, I feel a bit more in control of myself and in charge, doing rather than reacting. For a while, I was always reacting: “Oh no! It’s 8pm and I haven’t had enough protein today! Better eat something!” Or, “Why don’t I have any energy? Oh, yeah, I forgot to eat for six hours.” Now I’ve got a good schedule.* I’m starting to be able to feel when my stomach is full enough or too full. I can tell when I need to eat because my energy gets low and I feel empty (still not really feeling hungry, per se, but I can tell I need food). 

I spent some time looking through pictures on my phone yesterday, and was a bit surprised to find that I look thinner now than I have since before 2013, which is as far back as my phone photos go. I  have crossed some sort of line between “Oh my god, get that phone out of my face, I don’t even look good in a selfie taken at a creative angle” and “OK, not happy with full body shots, but face photos look fine.” This sounds fairly negative, I know, but it is actually big progress for me: I look OK in face photos. Baby steps. I’ve been cringing over photos of myself of any kind for several years now, so just being OK with face photos is great.

As I slide down the numbers on the scale, I’m trying to reconstruct the upward climb in my mind. It’s difficult. Not long into my latest cycle of gaining, I got rid of my scale - knowing full well that it was a bad idea, but justifying it somehow, probably like this: “The numbers aren’t important. I can feel it in my body and clothes if I gain, so I need to pay attention to that.” Yeah, uh huh. That worked out well. Denial is my superpower. This is why I’m committed to weighing myself every day now - I’ve proven to myself that I can’t be trusted to NOT weigh myself every day. A number is a specific thing that can’t be ignored. 

Almost 15 years ago, I lost a bunch of weight (after a couple of previous cycles of gaining and losing, of course) After losing 80+ pounds, by doing WW and exercising like crazy, I ended up at about 140, and was so happy. 

I worked hard at it, but couldn’t stay that low for long, despite the 1100-1200 calories a day and 1-2 hours of exercise daily - I literally tracked every bite that went into my mouth for three years. I thought it would be easier to maintain 150, so I tried that, but slid up to 165 despite keeping calories around 1200 and continuing to exercise daily. That was a bit easier to maintain, but I was feeling despondent by then, so the scale exited stage left - I think the batteries died, was the original issue? I stayed probably between 165 (the top of healthy weight for my height) and 180 for about 5 or 6 years or so, always being very conscious of calories in and exercise. 

Then it slid up a bit and I totally lost all motivation for trying so hard (and stopped taking photos of myself if I could help it). A few years later, a foot injury making exercise painful, some depression, my dad died, some more depression, some big life changes, more depression, more big life changes, an ankle injury making exercise painful, and presto! I had gained a whole lot more weight and had completely given up on trying to “be good.” Part of the giving up had been reading about how fruitless diet and exercise were in successfully keeping off weight - I felt like a poster child for that failure. Very thankful that part of my reading included some articles on WLS. Fast forward almost a year, and here I am, almost 70 pounds lighter and zooming down the numbers on the scale.

When I was down around 140, I completely changed my self-image. I know that’s supposed to be hard to do, and many formerly fat people still think of themselves as fat, but I really didn’t. The image my mind had of myself was thin. I saw myself in the mirror as thin (or at least thinnish). When I grabbed clothes off the rack, I grabbed clothes that were the correct size, little ones, not big drapey ones. I thought of myself as an in-shape, exercising, active person who ate really healthily. Strangely, that self-image stuck with me until the last few years - even after I was quite a lot bigger, I saw the thinner me in the mirror, and was caught off guard when I accidentally caught a glimpse of the bigger me in a reflective surface. 

I thought of it as temporary, even though I wasn’t doing anything to change my course, other than the weekly, monthly, whatever, commitment to a new diet and exercise plan, which was abandoned when it didn’t give me results in the time period I felt was reasonable or when it got so awful I couldn’t take it anymore (hello, juice fast). It was only in the past couple of years, when I was at my highest weight, that my brain started to realize that this wasn’t really a temporary situation anymore. 

My brain still didn’t register how big I was. I’d avoid looking at myself in the mirror even, because the person I saw wasn’t the person I was. I just wanted to hide. I avoided buying clothes so I didn’t have to face it. I only wore drapey clothes (stylishly drapey, in my mind) so no one could see what I looked like (maybe if they couldn’t see my outline they would guess that I was still thin???). Then, finally, I figured out that I was very heavy, and couldn’t do the active things I used to - hiking, biking, running, swimming, etc. - and that since weight loss was impossible, I would probably stay heavy forever, and never be able to do those things again. What?? I’m 42, not 82! That’s when WLS started sounding like a good idea, not radical but reasonable. So thankful I did the research on it and made the rational decision. You only get one shot at life - might as well make it a good one. I have a lot of things left to do, and I’m excited to get started on them.

 

*Was typing blog and forgot to eat breakfast until 11am. Baby steps.

 

September 2016 vs May 2017.png

Jen581791

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.

Jen581791

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.

Jen581791

 

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. 
 
Jen581791

...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. 

Jen581791

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. 

 

Jen581791

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen581791

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen581791

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.

 

 

 

Jen581791

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. 

 

 

 

 

Jen581791

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.

 

Jen581791

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.

Jen581791

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 ;)

 

 

 

Jen581791

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. 

 

 

 

Jen581791

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. 

 

Jen581791

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. #%&#036;??? 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. 

Jen581791

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. 

Jen581791

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. 

Jen581791

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!