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About this blog

This is my WLS journey.

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Time for the old monthly check-in. It’s been long enough now that this seems like a bit of a routine. It’s also been long enough that I’m not posting as frequently now… for better or worse, things have been rolling along pretty smoothly, and I don’t always have a ton of new experiences or emotions to report. That said, I seem to have squeezed out a few zillion words here, so I must have something to say. Warning: I hope you’re sitting somewhere comfortable.

Here’s the rundown:


This is the first month since the month before surgery that I’ve lost less than double digits in pounds. However, I did lose 9.8 pounds, so that’s pretty dang close. I’ll round up. I lost 10 pounds this month, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at. It’s 5.8% of what my bodyweight was at the beginning of the month. I have consistently lost around 5.5% to 6.5% of my bodyweight each month. That’s getting to be a smaller net number, but it’s the same percentage, which is interesting. If I were to lose that much again this coming month, that would put me at GW. Not sure that will happen, but I’m not too worried about it, either. I’m under 160 pounds now. That feels pretty awesome. My BMI hit “normal” about halfway through the month, and I have to say, it felt freaking awesome, despite the fact that BMI is pretty meaningless on an individual basis. It just felt like “Whew! Now I’m normal!” I truly felt like I wanted to wear it around on a t-shirt. Like it was some sort of evidence that I’m not fat. 

My 9 month comparison photos don’t really look that different from my 8 month ones, just the clothes look a bit looser. My hips a little narrower. My legs a little thinner. My boobs a little smaller. It’s not a big jump like it is between some of the other months. 


I’m still going at it with 800 or so calories per day. I’ve decided to do that until I’m at goal just because I can. I’m not feeling hungry or deprived, and I’m not feeling low on energy, so hey, why not. It’ll hurry things along a bit, I think, and if I can get settled at some sort of weight where I can buy some clothes and keep them for a while, I will be happy. 

My current daily menu looks something like this: 

Breakfast - a protein shake. It’s easy, it tastes fine, and it gets me a lot of protein. I’ve found a company in Dubai that sells Syntrax, Quest bars, and Oh Yeah 1 Bars, so I had a bunch shipped to my friend - I’m picking them up this weekend - woo! A trip to Dubai! And familiar protein! And much cheaper than the stuff I’ve been drinking.

Lunch - Greek yogurt, ½ cup, sometimes with frozen berries, plus sometimes veggie sticks

Before gym snack - Babybel cheese

After gym snack - tuna with mayo - ½ can tuna, 1 Tablespoon mayo, plus some pickles 

Dinner - shrimp or Quorn fake chicken or soy fake meat or Indian cheese (paneer) in spicy sauce of some kind, often made with greek yogurt or coconut milk. Usually Indian or Thai or something spicy like that. About 3 oz of protein and some nominal vegetables in it. 

Dessert - Lol! Jk! I had you going there, didn’t I? New motto: “I don’t eat sweets.” I chant this in my head so it comes out naturally when someone offers me something. 

Sometimes some almonds, sometimes some cheese, sometimes a protein bar, sometimes Eggface’s egg bites, sometimes hummus and halloumi cheese and tabbouli (tabbouli from this part of the world is like 99% parsley, so not that couscous or wheat stuff we see in the US), sometimes fish.

At the end of the day it works out to between 800 and 900 calories, with about ½ the calories coming from fat, 65-80+ grams of protein, and almost always under 35 grams of carbs.

I’m not eating a huge variety of stuff right now, but that’s OK with me - my routine stuff is fine, and as long as my food is spicy, I’m happy. My sense of taste/smell has not come back (as per earlier blog posts, the lack of smell is due to what I suppose is permanent loss after a really bad cold last year, and the weird tastes are from surgery) so everything is still a little weird, but my brain seems to be rewiring my senses now so that I’m learning what various things taste like to my new senses, so it’s bothering me less. 

In the past week, I’ve had cravings for salty, crunchy snacks before/after dinner, and I’m not sure what that’s about. It may be the end of the honeymoon rearing its ugly head, or it may be that I just need some more calories and salt in my diet. Long story short, I’ve been feeling like I want to eat more calories and snacks, but I’m not really hungry, so I haven’t done that. 

I did have one teaspoon of Pinkberry pomegranate frozen yogurt this week. It was delicious, but I could easily stop at the one bite. I also had a couple of little bites of a traditional Omani dessert (called halwa, but really different from the halwa in other parts of the Middle East) because they were offered by a person I couldn’t afford to offend and it would have been culturally inappropriate to say no. It was amazingly delicious. It also gave me heart palpitations since I’m not used to sugar. Lesson learned: eating sweets is a cultural sacrifice I only do if I have to :) 


I’m doing really well at going to the gym 4-5 days per week, and doing a lot of walking the other days. After the Big Hike (see the last blog post), I have decided to work hard at the gym to make things like that easier. I’ve bumped up my cardio to be a little more challenging with the addition of using the stair machine, and I’m doing faster walking on the treadmill (7kph/4.3mph) and/or elliptical. I’m not doing much in the way of weights, although I know I should. I should probably be extending my gym time to 1:30 from the current 1:00 I’m doing. I know that’s in my long term best interest to keep the weight off. I actually like going to the gym now. It’s a nice part of my day.

I went hiking last weekend, and it was fabulous to know that wherever we ended up, I was going to be fine. I wasn’t going to be that person, trudging along at the end, wheezing and panting, that everyone looks at sympathetically. We have to walk up this steep uphill for half an hour? Sure thing. I can do that. It’s a lot easier when you’re not carrying around a 130lb. backpack, let me tell you.

Physical health

Resting heart rate is 53. My Fitbit says I’m in “excellent health” for my demographic (and who’s to argue with Fitbit?!). No pouch problems. Hair is growing back. Due for blood tests again, but the last ones were good. Taking all my vitamins like my life depends on it ;) Can run up stairs and not get winded. Get antsy if I have to sit too long. 

Emotional state

I feel fantastic. Like I can do anything. Like I’m actually a thinnish person. I’m not sure why, but I think my body dysmorphia kind of worked the opposite of how many people’s do - I never felt like I was as big as I was. I always felt like a normal sized person who was temporarily carrying around more weight that I should have been. About 10 pounds ago, I got to a point where I’m actually a little thinner than my internal image of myself. Sometimes at this point I’m surprised to see how thin I look in the mirror - whereas before I hit that point, I was pleased that I was thinner, but I wasn’t pleased at my appearance, if that makes sense. I think I might have a bit easier time of the size change than many for this reason. 

I really don’t miss anything at all about being heavy - I know that’s not true for everyone, but I really didn’t identify with it. It’s something I only hated about myself, and couldn’t wait to rid myself of. I think this might be connected to the period of my life I spent as thin previously (just before and after turning 30, when I starved and exercised myself down to 140). I have kept that image of myself in the back of my head all these years, like that was the REAL me, and this fat me was a temporary setback. Yeah, temporary. Like 10 years. Just a passing phase ;)

In the back of my head, I have a few negative thoughts. These sometimes concern my body (Droopy skin! Not my favorite! Worth it, but I don’t like it! - or: My thighs are still fat! I hate them!) but those thoughts are not too loud, and are a whole heck of a lot better than what they used to be (thoughts of self-loathing on a constant repeating loop). Some other negative thoughts include feeling sad when seeing overweight people, knowing how hard that is, and also knowing that they would not welcome me as part of the club at this point. Since I’ve moved, I don’t see anyone who’s ever known me as overweight, so the only me they know is the normal sized one (Actually, I’ve lost 30 pounds here, but no one seems to notice, since they didn’t know me before and most of my clothes are pretty baggy). I have mixed feelings about being that thin person that fat people look at and have negative thoughts. 

Some other negative thoughts that pop up from time to time include: What if the losses won’t stop? (I had a dream about this), What if I just can’t take being careful about my eating forever? What if I get tired of exercising? What if I just want to eat some junk food? What if I become a really boring person because I never eat or drink with abandon? <- fat person thoughts

On the whole, I just feel pretty fabulous about myself every day. I mean, I have other problems in my life, like anyone, but as far as my self-image goes, life is good. Right now, it feels like most of my depression and negative thoughts previously were caused by being overweight (although at a certain point, that became a recursive chicken and egg thing, snowballing into… well, into what I was a year ago: fat and unhappy.

And now, the most important thing: my wardrobe

I’ve had my second trip to the tailor (thank goodness for cheap tailors!). Some of my items have now been taken in twice. This time he said, “No more on these, madame. These are finished now.” They have been taken in as much as they can be. I’ve also got a heap of things to go to the tailor again next week. I try something on I haven’t worn in a few weeks, and it’s really surprising how awfully oversized it looks. I cannot WAIT to stabilize a bit and actually buy some things that will fit for a while. 

I’m dying to figure out what kind of clothes I’m going to wear. It totally stinks that it’s winter time, because what’s available in stores is totally inappropriate for the weather here. I don’t know why, but this is a world-wide phenomenon: when it’s cold in the US and Europe, stores in hot locations carry winter clothes as if it’s cold there, too. I mean, it’s like 85F/28C every day here - I do not need a wool coat, a heavy sweater, scarves/gloves/hats, or knee high boots. So I’ve got slim pickings at the moment. I’m trying to bide my time and plot my fashion trajectory. What kind of a wardrobe do I want? What’s my style? It’s been a long time since I’ve dressed in whatever I want to wear instead of whatever fits and doesn’t “make me look fat.” I’m poring over the fashion websites (I mean, not serious fashion stuff like Vogue, I’m not that kind of person, but like what people with a good sense of style actually wear sorts of websites), trying desperately to identify a style. 

It needs to be a style that’s compatible with the climate here (hot, hot, and hot), somewhat conservative as far as covering up flesh goes (no sleeveless stuff, midi length or at least knee covering length skirts/dresses, not too tight of anything, nothing low-cut) so that it works in my cultural environment. And, it needs to be fun! Because I can wear fun clothes now! I feel like a teenaged girl trying to find her sense of identity through her wardrobe. I hope I don’t go through an unfortunate emo phase. 


Most of the people I’ve met since I’ve moved are very, very fit and athletic. They have somehow decided that my husband and I might fit into their world, and that’s nice - they’re fun people and do a lot of interesting stuff. Oman has amazing outdoor activities, and we’d like to take advantage of them. So, we were invited along on a hike this weekend. Hiking: I like that! However, the two women we were going with are seriously hardcore hikers, and we were nervous about this. We warned them that it might be hard for us, and they said “We’ll just go slow. You’ll be fine.”

The hike was only about 6 km (3.5 miles), so not too tough, right? Well, dear reader, the first three kilometers were straight up. Like literally straight up. We went 3 kilometers up a cliff face on a trail I’d describe more as rough stones sometimes piled loosely into steps, and in that 3 kilometers gained a kilometer of altitude. Wow. It was not for the faint of heart. We started at a little village surrounded by high cliffs, and climbed up out of it. Looking up from the bottom, I just could not accept that we were going to climb all the way up there. “There must be a shortcut somewhere,” I thought, as I started up the trail, “no one could possibly climb all the way up there.” No, no shortcuts. We just hiked/climbed up, up, up and watched the village dwindle in size as we ascended above it. There were a lot of pretty hairy moments - glad I don’t have a strong fear of heights - and my hands are actually all scuffed up from using them to pull myself up things. We actually had to use a steel cable bolted to a wall to pull ourselves up onto a shelf at one point, with a huge drop just under us. I had to really talk myself down a few times - there was often a loud voice shouting in my brain that I couldn’t do it, that I’d have to go back, that I’d never make it, that I was going to die, or that this was the worst decision I’d ever made in my entire life. 

The moment we pulled ourselves over the top at the edge of the escarpment, I was elated! Whew! Done! Until I looked to our destination (a couple of cell towers where we’d parked one car) and could see that not only were they in the distance, a couple of miles away, but there were a bunch of rocky hills we’d have to climb over to get to them. Like literally climb in many places. 

My heart rate was between 120 - 160 almost all day (7 hours), and I had to stop and take plenty of breaks, especially as the altitude started making me suck wind a bit more towards the top. I fueled myself up frequently (shake, bar, almonds). It was literally the hardest thing I have ever done. I can’t believe I did it. I had no idea I would be able to. If I had seen what it looked like before we actually arrived, I never would have said yes! But I did it. It was unpleasant and painful, but I did it. When we finished, I asked whether this was a hard hike, relative to others in the area. “Oh yeah. If you can do this one, you can do any of them,” they answered. Trial by fire, then, I guess. To be fair, the views were incredible, and it was an amazing thing to do - just way, way harder than I had anticipated. I worked harder than I knew I was capable of.

I got my all time high day of steps on Fitbit (27,000+), but that really just does not seem to reflect how hard it was. We spent all day climbing up, pulling ourselves up, forcing ourselves up onto the next step, the next shelf, the next ledge. My Fitness Pal thought I should have eaten 4,000 calories yesterday :D Well, I did eat 1,000, which is quite a lot for me. 

It was steep. It was hard. It was long. It was painful. There is absolutely no way on earth I would have been able to do it even a couple of months ago, let alone any longer ago than that. And other than some blisters on my feet (which always get blisters, so nothing special there), I’m no worse for the wear. I survived. Now I just have to live in fear of being invited on the next hiking trip. 

Here are some photos. In the top ones, the village is the one we hiked up from. In the bottom right picture you can see the cell phone towers we hiked up to at the top of the mountain. The white splotch behind the tree in the left picture is the same village, seen from the top. In the bottom pictures, you can see me, working hard. Some of the pictures are a little Where's Waldo, but I'm there.





Today is my 8 month surgiversary. 

Eight months!

As of today, I weigh 169 pounds. I have lost 121 pounds (102 since surgery). 

My BMI is 25.7, down from 44. 

I’m about 5 pounds from “normal” BMI (whatever relevance you give this number)

I lost 11 pounds this month, making it the ninth month in a row I’ll pulled double digits (-11 for the last three months in a row)

I lost 37% of my excess weight this month - that number gets bigger and bigger as the amount I have to lose gets smaller and smaller, obviously. 

I lost 6% of my total body weight this month. That seems like quite a lot. 

My current, rather flexible goal weight is 150, which is now within shouting distance. 

I feel like I’ve achieved most of my lifestyle goals. I can do the things I want to now without pain or discomfort, being out of breath, or feeling self-conscious. 

~~~(With the exception of swimming. *prepare for long, whiny complaining ahead* My legs look pretty awful to me - I know I’m thinner, and I should be proud of my body, but I am not now, nor have I ever been, happy with my legs. I still haven’t bought a bathing suit. I need to, since it’s getting to be bathing suit weather here now. I had a dream last night that I went to the beach with a bunch of people I’ve met here at work. They were all swimming, and I was sitting on the beach, alone, feeling sorry for myself that I didn’t have a bathing suit because I would be too self-conscious in it. This is not hard dream to analyze. Two groups of my colleagues are off on bathing suit related adventures this weekend, ones that would probably be awesome but that I didn’t want to go on. I hope the next 20 pounds brings me a little peace of mind in this area. Part of it is my general self-consciousness, but another part is pure 100% pride: I know my legs don’t look good, and I don’t want anyone to see them. I don’t feel like I can just “get over it” and come to terms with my appearance. And no, it’s not body dysmorphia. My legs do, indeed, look wobbly and cellulitey, and whatever the opposite of toned and fit is. Even when I was a runner and much thinner than I am now, they did not look good. This seems like a petty complaint, but it’s pretty central to my sense of self. I have always been ashamed of my legs, like since I was a kid. So I’m hoping the next 20 pounds will do something magical. Yes, I'm trying hard to keep in mind being thankful for my health and that I have a pair of good, functioning legs that take me where I want to go. I told you this would be whiny, and it is. It is not a feeling I am proud of, but it is an honest feeling, so I'm sharing it.)~~~

I stopped running this week. The first week, everything felt fine. The second week, my knees felt a little achey after the first couple of days, and on the third day of running, they hurt. They kept hurting after I stopped running, and still feel a little achey now. ACL achey is not something I want to play around with, so I’m back to walking fast and lifting weights. It stinks because I was kind of getting in the groove with the running, going at a decent pace, and my body was feeling really good from it (well, other than my ACLs). I’ve kicked up my walking pace to varying between 4-4.3 mph, which is a pretty fast clip and gets my heart going pretty well. I figure 45 to 60 minutes of that is adequate for cardio, and with some weights thrown in, that’s enough to get in decent shape. This will do for now, and I’ll look back into running in another 20 pounds. Maybe that’s light enough to not hurt myself. Why do I keep saying "in another 20 pounds"? It sounds like this 150 GW I have in mind is taking on some psychological significance I didn't mean it to.

I went out to dinner last night with a group and had some lovely coconut curry prawns, and I don’t think anyone at the table noticed my weird eating at all - I ate most of the prawns, lots of the curry sauce, and none of the rice it was served with. It was very tasty. I had a couple of glasses of wine (probably should have stopped at one, but oh well). I passed on the dessert - a big group at the table next to us had a huge birthday cake, and were apparently impressed with the level of gusto with which we sang happy birthday to a stranger, and sent over slices of cake for everyone at our table. Cake is not my thing, so that wasn’t hard, and I just pushed mine toward the garbage disposal, I mean my husband, who ate most of my share. He’s very handy for situations like these. (He’s actually lost about 30 pounds since I started this whole process, so I’m apparently not using him as my personal garbage disposal too often.) It was a good evening that showed me how easy it can be to eat what I need to eat without having to answer any questions or get weird looks. None of these people know me as anything other than what I look like now, so they will learn to accept my tiny meals as normal for me. And as I looked around at the people I was eating with, I guessed that I was probably the thinnest one at the table. None of them are very big, but just a little more overweight than me. Very strange. 



It’s update time. 

I’m at almost 8 months out, and things are going really well. I’ve lost 117 pounds (!) in 9 months - I lost 20 pounds in the month pre-op. I’m 23 pounds away from my somewhat flexible goal weight of 150. That sounds crazy to me. I mean, it’s only been 9 months total. That’s a pretty quick timeframe for losing a whole human's worth of weight.

I’m eating around 800 calories per day still, with a few days that go up to 1000 if I’m being social, and a few days that are down around 600 if I’m busy or something doesn’t sit well with me. I’m getting my 65+ grams of protein per day (usually 75 or so). I’m still tracking like it’s my job. I take my vitamins daily. I drink my 64oz+ of water per day. I feel like I’m getting enough food to have enough energy to do everything I want to. I sometimes feel a little more interested in food than I was a couple of months ago, and some things have stopped tasting as bad as they have for the past few months. Almonds are OK now, and dairy tastes less weird. The things that taste the best are fruits and vegetables. My newly increased veg quantities (raw veggie sticks every day, occasional salads) means improvement on the regularity front, thank goodness. I can eat basically anything, but sometimes get that stuck feeling if I eat something really dense or don’t chew well enough. Eggs sometimes just feel stuck. Fish sometimes just feels stuck. Sometimes I don’t chew my carrot sticks into smithereens and they feel stuck. That one is totally on me, though.

A typical day’s food for me might be: 

  • protein shake for breakfast
  • greek yogurt for lunch
  • vegetable sticks and spicy labneh dip (basically greek yogurt with spices stirred in) for a snack
  • a piece of cheese for another snack
  • maybe a few almonds
  • protein and a bit of veg for dinner (fake meat or shrimp or fish or tofu or cheese, cooked in some kind of spicy sauce, plus the vegetables that go with it)

I’m not really eating any junk or anything that isn’t pretty healthy, in fact. I have a glass of wine every week or so, socially. I have almonds or veggie sticks or cheese when I want a snack. I’ve been faced with pizza and pasta and chips and all that stuff I used to just need many many times, and I think I’ve just sort of grown immune to it. My diet is currently sort of low-carb, sort of keto - it’s about 50% fat, and 40% protein, and 10% carbs, which come almost exclusively from fruit and veg and dairy. I’m not really sure how I’ll change that up as I approach goal - it seems that the fewer carbs I have, the fewer I want, but I think I’ll be willing to test out some quinoa or whatever at that point. I think I’ll probably increase my bean intake then, though, because I love beans and have actually been feeling a bit deprived since I’m avoiding eating too many of them while I’m in the active losing phase, because they are pretty high in carbs (the good kind of carbs! I’m just trying to stay in ketosis).

I’m exercising as much as I should be, I think. I go to the gym 4 or 5 days per week, and almost always get at least my 10,000 steps on the other days. I’m doing mostly cardio at the gym for the moment, but a little bit of weights (I know I should focus on that more). I’m walking fast, doing a little running (15 minutes for now), and/or a little elliptical. My body is feeling really good. My cardio fitness is getting pretty good - I don’t get winded when running (albeit slowly) and I’m happy to run up and down the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. I don’t feel like I’m lugging around a 100+ lb backpack all the time, dragging myself up stairs, getting tired just walking a bit. I have, in general, a lot more energy now - I feel energized by going to the gym instead of exhausted by it, so now I look forward to going there. 

My body is still doing the weird shrinking a lot quickly and getting loose skin, and then letting the skin catch up thing. Right now I’m in a tightening phase, I guess, since my arms are a bit less wobbly. Things are, in general, not too weird with my skin, which is wonderful, and also does not guarantee that it will be this way in 20 more pounds. Basically, I’m not counting my chickens yet, but I’m thankful for those as yet uncounted chickens, however many of them there turn out to be when I count them at some future date.

My clothes are getting too big insanely quickly now. I just had a bunch of stuff taken in at the tailor’s, and they are already a bit too big, and I can see that it’s a matter of weeks before I either get them taken in again or just buy new stuff. I think this tailor is going to have some pretty regular business from me. At the beginning, 10 pounds made zero difference in my clothing size. I had to lose like 30 to change sizes at all. Now, 10 pounds is totally changing how my clothes fit. Which is great. And it also sucks.

I’ve told a few friends about my WLS, not many, but a few. They have all been very positive. I feel like the more success I have, the easier it is to tell people, because, hey, what can you say when someone you’ve known for a long time who has had a weight problem since forever suddenly is much thinner, healthier, and happier? 

I’m in a closed Fb group for women who had surgery at the same time as me, and I kind of wish they had the same support as I do here on TTF. They very early started to slip and slide back into some of the eating habits that I’m trying not to fall into. At the moment, there are several of them who keep coming back on to complain that they haven’t lost anything in months and are worried their surgery didn’t work and they make pledges and promises to “get back on track.” I’m happy to say that the complete and total normalization of eating in a pretty controlled fashion that happens here on TTF has helped me enormously - I don’t need to “get back on track” because I haven’t left the track. I understand that my first year or so out is my honeymoon period, when I should lose the maximum I can because my lack of hunger and my tiny stomach make that easier during this time.  It is amazingly helpful to read of people six months out, a year out, several years out, many years out who still think very mindfully about what it is they’re putting in their bodies and take great care to make sure it’s protein first, then veggies, then everything else if there’s room. Seeing that people can continue in this manner without feeling “deprived” or like they “deserve a treat” really helps me think about food this way, too. When everyone helps create this climate of careful eating, I benefit by feeling I’m not alone. I don’t have any sort of god-given or constitutional right to pizza after work at the end of a long week. I have a responsibility to my body to provide it with the nutrition it needs, particularly protein. Entertainment food can come later if I have room. Thank you to all the people here on TTF who contribute to the climate of healthy eating that exists here on the forum. I don’t know what I’d do without you :) 

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I’ve been asked by a couple of people this week if I’m a “runner.” I’ve also been asked if I want to go overnight backpacking. And also which gym I belong to (because of course I belong to one). This is a new thing. I don’t think these people are being polite - I think they see it as an actual possibility that I am that kind of person (I’m trying to be). I’m still overweight: I won’t hit that magical “normal” BMI number for another 10 pounds. However, I look pretty normal.

This is all a little alarming. Number one, I’m definitely going to betray and abandon the old fat me. I’m living in a new place where no one knows me yet. I do not remotely feel tempted to tell anyone that I’ve recently lost a lot of weight. I’m trying to decide whether I’m trying to hide my past, run from my past, erase my past, or whether I’m just moving on in a healthy way. Number two, I’m going to have to do some awfully sporty things to keep up this facade. This is probably a very good thing for me. I tend to be a baseline fairly lazy person unless I’m pushed by something to work out a lot. Sometimes that something is vanity, sometimes it’s boredom, and sometimes it’s a quest to keep up with peer pressure. It’s what’s led to the periods in my life - sometimes they’ve been several years long - when I’ve been in good shape. This could be a really good motivator for me. 

I went camping with a group of people this weekend. I love camping. This was just car camping, so nothing athletic about it, but it was the group of people that was athletic. This is a group whose respective hobbies include: rock climbing, backpacking, weightlifting, cycling, long distance running, kite surfing, yoga, ultimate frisbee, surfing, and… well, you name it. If it’s an outdoorsy, athletic thing, at least one of these people does it. It was a little intimidating. They were all very nice, though, and are excited to incorporate us into their sporty group. I hope I can keep up. It may actually push me to do things I want to do in theory but am a bit chicken to do without some external motivating factors. 

This brings me to my love/hate relationship with running, which I am contemplating starting again. Weight loss has always been accompanied by running in my life. Chicken or egg sort of thing - not sure which spurs on the other, but they seem to go hand in hand. I wrecked my ACLs in my teens (soccer left and downhill skiing right), so I’ve had to be careful about how heavy I am when I run. Below 180, I seem to do OK. When I had my surgery, one of the things I promised myself was that when I got to that threshold, I would start running again. Running makes me feel good (eventually! it sucks for a while). It gets me in shape the way little else does. It seemed like a really long way off when I made that decision, perhaps an imaginary amount of time in the future. Maybe I’d never get there - statistically I wouldn’t, since average weight loss after RNY is something like 70% of total excess weight, and that would still put me above 180. 

Well, it’s been coming on the horizon for a while now, and I’ve hit and passed the 180 mark. I’m at 175 today (-82% of total excess weight). I have not started the running. This is where I confess to my “reasons” (excuses). 

Best reason, possibly an actual reason rather than an excuse: I broke some toes a few years ago and continued to wear high heels for a couple of months afterwards instead of buying some flats to let the toes heal properly. Hey, at least I quit running to let them heal. I realize how stupid this sounds in retrospect, but as a formerly sporty person, I have broken toes many times in my life, and you can’t really do anything about them. You just tape them up and let them heal. The stupid part, the high heels, was because at the time I only wore heels. I didn’t own any sensible flats other than workout shoes or hiking boots. I didn’t want to buy flats just for the few weeks it would take for my toes to heal. This was a mistake, as it had a knock-on effect on the rest of my foot. My metatarsals got a bit whacked out of alignment because of my idiocy. This led to some foot pain that led to me not getting back to running. More pain -> less exercise -> weight gain -> more pain -> less exercise -> weight gain -> more pain, etc. (depression fits into that equation somewhere, too) The good news is that the pain is getting better with the weight loss. The bad news is that my foot still hurts a bit when I walk for a long time. I’m thinking of testing out my pet theory that running will put pressure on different places and might not hurt. 

Next best reason, sort of an excuse, but maybe not?: my knees are delicate creatures and have now been put under the strain of me being a lot heavier for several years. I am also older. My parents both had/have knee problems. I don’t want to wear my poor knees out. Of course, this does not take into account the fact that running on the proper surfaces with good shoes shouldn’t be a problem if I’m not too heavy, and also that running can strengthen the muscles that help support my knees. And now I’m below that magical 180 threshold…

Worst reason, definitely an excuse: I’m afraid of looking fat when I run. I know I am not in running shape, and I fear people looking and judging as I get over that first few months hump of looking awkward and gasping for breath and not being in shape. I’m jiggly and bouncy. I want to look like a tiny gazelle running. I do not look like that now. If I try running, I’ll have to do it at the gym, on a treadmill, facing a mirror (why oh why are gyms full of mirrors) and in front of whoever is there working out. It’s still really hot here, so no outdoor running yet. The only way to NOT look bad running is to start running and get in shape, I know. But what if I wait another 20 pounds? 

Feel free to tell me of your thoughts on my reasons/excuses in the comments. I’m trying not to be stupid, but I’m also trying to not let my lazy and chicken-hearted inner voices control me. 

So, operation Masquerade as a Normal Person is in full swing. I am a Healthy Person who eats very little, mostly protein. I am a Person Who Exercises Regularly. I am a Sporty, Outdoorsy Person. No one knows any different here, so I’m just going to go with that. 

Am I betraying my formerly fat self? I’m of two minds about that. She is me, and neither of us liked being that person, suffering physically and emotionally all the time and beating herself up for her failures and shortcomings. It was awful and depressing, and leaving that chapter behind is a positive step forward. On the other hand, she is me, and erasing her from the picture is not honoring the she who became me, or the me that comes out of her suffering. I am the product of all of the experiences of my life, whether they were experiences I want to talk about and share or not. She will always be there, even if I don’t acknowledge her to anyone else. It feels a little like photoshopping out an ex from all of my photos, though. 

Carving out a new identity is a big part of extreme weight loss. I know that. I’ve done that before (several times). Carving out a new identity is also a big part of moving to a new country, far from people you know. I know that. I’ve done that several times, too. Put both of those factors together, and I’ve got the potential for a whole new life, one that I can mold and shape as I want to. At some point, rearranging your life to consist of entirely new behaviors and experiences does actually make you a different person - the underlying personality is there, but with new thought processes and habits layered on top. I think that’s called growth. 


This post is the follow-up to my post asking for advice earlier this week - http://www.thinnertimesforum.com/topic/120767-advice-for-post-op-dinner-party/

A few days ago, I starting really worrying about a dinner party I was invited to and asked for advice. I got lots of good pointers, mostly along the lines of “don’t get so worked up over this - people won’t care/notice.” Well, last night was the dinner party, so here I am for a post-party postmortem.

Before the party, I had emailed the hostess to say that I was a vegetarian-who-now-eats-fish (a category I once derided as “fake-atarian” but must now dignify with the name of “pescatarian” I guess). I was happy to hear that the hostess also falls into this category, as does another guest (whew! I wouldn’t be arriving at a lamb-roast! that’s a good start!). I loaded up on protein early in the day just in case, and determined to do my best to eat a little bit of whatever was served. I was also praying for salad, since I can do a pretty decent job of taking out some green leafy vegetables without getting too full. Or maybe a buffet-style thing where I could just take tiny bits of things.

I arrived to find that there were only 5 of us, total (alarm bells!) and that the hosts are sort of famous for their cooking (more alarm bells!). However, they are also very very very fit and health conscious people, so I was still holding out for something other than a giant plate of carbs. I had some wine before dinner and some veggies and hummus, which was a great option. Then, the baked brie topped with fruit and nuts and maple syrup (Canadians!! grr!) came out of the oven, and a loaded up cracker was thrust at me. “This,” I thought briefly, “would be a bad time to find out that I dump from sugar.” You see, dear reader, I have had no sugar, other than the stuff naturally occurring in dairy, fruit, and veggies, in 8 months, so I had no idea whether this would be the end of the world or no big deal. (I maybe should have experimented beforehand.) I ate the cracker with the stuff on top, and the maple syrup definitely wasn’t a selling point in my opinion, but it went down and stayed down, and I felt OK. As a non-Canadian, I do like maple syrup in theory, but do not enjoy the liberal use of it that Canadian expats seem to enjoy.

Then, to table. Out come pre-plated dinners (worst case scenario!). They served seared tuna and grilled vegetables and grilled halloumi (an excellent firm salty Middle Eastern cheese, best eaten grilled or fried, doesn’t melt, just gets crispy). Yes! I can eat all of those things! I skipped the bread (and actually the salad, too, no room with this giant plate of normal sized portions!), and attacked the tuna, which was delicious. I ate really really slowly and drank wine while eating (please just wash some of this food through so I can eat more!) and managed to eat about half of the tuna, all of the halloumi and some of the veggies. I mumbled some things about low carb and how delicious everything was - it was actually really delicious. At a certain point, I was admonished to stop eating if I was full and not worry about it, since of course I was the last one eating and the only one who didn’t clean her plate :( I gave up at that point. 

Then, the hostess disappeared into the kitchen to get dessert. Which came back to the table already plated (small voice inside making strangling sounds). It was sitting in front of me before there was any possible way I could have politely declined or even asked for a smaller piece. These are people I don’t know at all, remember, and who are being very nice to me and my husband as new people, to invite us over for dinner - so I can’t really be rude here. It’s super ultra rich chocolate cake and ice cream (small voice takes on new urgency, sort of quietly screaming). I’m pretty sure I looked a little like a deer in the headlights, but I tried to be calm, really I did. I skipped the ice cream and got some tsk tsks for that, but I ate a lot (for me) of the cake. I maneuvered around the frosting and got only the cake itself, to minimize the dumping risk. I ate super slowly. I tried to refuse the fancy Italian chocolate liqueur that was served with it, and was allowed to share one with my husband (I took fake sips). 

The cake was good. I’m not really a chocolate person (sounds crazy, I know, but I don’t love it, and since my sense of smell went haywire last winter, it just tastes sort of bitter to me), so it wouldn’t be my thing in the best of scenarios, but at this point, I’m just eating slowly and hoping that I’m not going to have a dumping episode right here at these fine people’s house. I did not. I got a bit hot and sweaty, but nothing other than that. I’m glad I didn’t push my luck with the ice cream. I was fine. 

After we left, I was like “Woo hoo! I made it through being invited to someone’s house for dinner and I did OK! I ate like half of everything! I ate cake! I made it!!!!!!” I think I’ve just established myself as a person who doesn’t eat much or maybe a picky eater, which is fine. I guess that both of those things describe me now, so that’s probably a good thing. “Hi, I’m Jen, and I’m a picky eater who doesn’t eat much.” BUT, I’m a picky eater who doesn’t eat much who can go to dinner at someone’s house and not die! 

I did my MFP food diary when I got home (gee, I’m so fun), and I only had about 1100 calories total for the day, even including the two glasses of wine and the cake. I guess there’s only so much damage you can do if you’re eating tiny quantities. Good to keep in mind while focusing on keeping the quantities of suboptimal things small. 

I think this dinner was the signal to me that I need to experiment a bit more and figure out some more coping strategies for dealing with being served things that are less than ideal for my way of eating. Living the life of an expat in this part of the world means eating dinner at other people’s houses pretty frequently, as that’s a major portion of the social entertainment available. Since we’ve just arrived, I think there will be a good number of these kinds of things as people get to know us, and I’m hoping they all go as smoothly, despite my fears, as this one went. 

I’m about 28 pounds from GW right now, so at some point in the foreseeable future, I’m going to have to learn how to maintain, which will require learning to deal with the normal everyday food challenges presented as I go through my life. Up to this point, I’ve been narrowly focused on eating *perfectly* and this has served me well, but my strategy will have to change a bit. In general in life, I find it much easier to be an “all or nothing” kind of person - I can do *perfect* perfectly, for a while, until I can’t. I have a hard time going back to something like *perfect* after falling off the wagon, or making periodic allowances that disrupt *perfect*. This is something I need to work on. The cake didn’t kill me. The maple syrup didn’t even kill me. Today I can eat whatever I like, which in this post-WLS iteration of my life means greek yogurt and protein shakes and cheese and shrimp, and I don’t have to feel bad or guilty or anything negative at all about what I ate last night. In fact, I can feel good about it. I was flexible and I ate both to sustain my health and to perform a social function, and both of those things are important in life. 

And they liked us enough to invite us camping next weekend, so I guess we passed the test. I’ll make sure to bring some protein bars.


Seven months!

Today is my seven-month-aversary. As of today, I have lost 110 pounds (well, 109.6, but I’m going to round up here). Holy smokes. That’s a lot. :blink: That’s a whole person. My losses this month totaled 10.4 pounds, which is the smallest number since the whole thing began, but that’s pretty normal, since I weigh a whole lot less now. I’ve figured out my monthly losses as a percentage of total body weight (calculating from my weight at the beginning of the month), and here’s how they look: 

M0: 6.6% (one month of pre-op low carbing)

M1: 5.8% (one month after surgery)

M2: 4.2%

M3 5.4%

M4: 6.3%

M5: 6.9%

M6: 5.5%

M7: 5.5%

Pretty crazy. I am truly stunned to look in the mirror now - I look pretty good, even to my overly self-critical eyes. I exercise regularly. I’m very careful about what I eat, but I always seem to find something that works for me (to be fair, I’m fairly selective about the restaurants I go to). I’ve got new students and new colleagues who will never know me as a fat person. That’s very liberating, mentally speaking.

I had a friend, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years, come to visit last weekend, and she was really amazed. I told her about the surgery (she’s a very very close friend and a tight lipped one, as well), and she was surprised, but supportive. It was kind of nice to have someone else I care about in the loop. It was also fantastic to be able to run around and be active in the hot temperatures and high humidity here, without ending up in a puddle of sweat, panting hard, and with a red face from overexertion. We took some pictures, and I was really surprised to see how I looked in them: regular sized. My face looks thin. None of the photos were “at a bad angle” (that’s what we say when we mean “not at that one very specific angle where I don’t look quite so heavy”), and all of them looked fine. What a great feeling to not be afraid of the camera. I have very few photos of myself (particularly more than just from the shoulders up) from the last few years because I hated how they looked. Now I guess I can go back on the photographic record again… sad how our feelings about our bodies determine how we mark our passage through time with photos.

*Note that the photos I’m attaching have no pictures of me - that is because all the photos of me are with my friend, and I’m not certain she’d enjoy her 15 minutes of WLS blog fame*

While my friend was here, I enjoyed more “discretionary” (healthy, low-carb, but larger quantities) eating, bumping my calories up to around 900+ per day (over 1000 calories one day!!!!!), and honestly it felt good to go back to 700-800 when she left. I didn’t lose any weight for about a week, but not sure if that had anything to do with what I was taking in, or whether it was just one of those weeks when it wasn’t coming off (the week previous I lost 5 pounds, so who knows). It felt like I was constantly full at 900+ per day. I’m starting to wonder how many calories I’ll be able to maintain on, now that the end of the rapid loss phase is at least somewhat within my sights. 

My first week of classes is in the bag. It actually went really well, both personally and WLS-wise, as well. The new students and colleagues are really nice and the program I’m working in is a good one, so I think I’ll be happy here. I took my food with me every day (greek yogurt, string cheese, almonds, protein shakes) and was careful to eat when I needed to during the day. I brought an emergency protein bar, just in case, but I didn’t end up needing it. Having it with me was a bit of peace of mind, though. I drank quite a lot of water all day every day. I exercised at the gym on campus EVERY DAY after class - I had forgotten that when I’m thinner, I actually enjoy exercising, and it helped keep my first week stress at a manageable level. All in all, it was a very good, if exhausting, first week at a new job. 

Unfortunately/fortunately :(/:D, I’m going to need to find a tailor or buy some more clothes because I’ve run out of the stuff I had squirreled away from my thinner days. It’s all too big for me now. I tried it all on before I left the US, and it was definitely not tight, but workable. Now, however, it’s unwearable, like I look like I’m wearing someone else’s way too big clothes. I have three skirts, three pairs of trousers and one dress that are just too big to wear. That’s a substantial chunk of my wardrobe, since I only brought what fit in a few suitcases with me. People, these are wardrobe staples we’re talking about here! I’m having a wardrobe crisis! I’m actually kind of looking forward to doing some shopping, though: imagine that! :o I think I’ll try to aim for some stuff that will work for a range of weights, like dresses and skirts in stretchy or drapey fabrics, because I’m pretty sure I’ll go through some more sizes in the next few months. 

I’ve been watching Chemistry Queen on YouTube this week. She’s just had brachioplasty and abdominoplasty and it was very interesting to watch her videos from just before and after. It looked like she was in a lot of pain, but the results, even so early out, are impressive. She’s a really brave blogger, though, totally willing to tell it like it is and put herself out there, showing just what things look like and feel like. Thank goodness for people like that. I’m not having a lot of skin problems yet, but I do have 30 pounds to go until I get to my (somewhat arbitrary) GW, so I don’t know if I’m going to end up a bit saggier looking than I am now. My skin all feels a bit loose at the moment, like it’s not that tightly attached to me and can slide around a bit. I’m hoping that it’ll tighten some after I get to GW and it has a chance to recover a little. It’s funny how it goes in cycles - I wake up one day and notice that my chin wattle has become a thing and looks saggy, and I stress out about it and slather it (even more than usual) with three different kinds of moisturizer. This continues for a week or so. Then, one morning, I wake up and look in the mirror and it looks OK again. The chin wattle is synchronized with the arm wings and jiggly thighs - they all get really loose for a while, and then suddenly they’re not so bad again one day.

Overall, I just feel really positive right now. I’m not really struggling with food issues, I’m still losing, I’m not hungry at all (yet?), and I’m looking and feeling good. Is this why they call it the honeymoon period? B)

Photos below are of one of the many many forts in Oman, plus a shot at a resort on the beach. The water/rock color combo is stunning! I'll need to do some swimming here.




Well, it’s been more than a week, and I’m surviving so far!

My in-flight meals were a WLS post-op’s nightmare: giant heaps of carbs. We always sign up to get the vegetarian option, which is great on some airlines and not so great on others. KLM and Delta seem to have a carnivore with a chip on his shoulder designing the veg menu. We were actually served a hamburger bun with some kind of gloopy rice thing as the filling for one meal. Seriously? Everyone else gets eggs and cheese? Which is vegetarian (but not vegan, but we didn’t specify vegan, just veg)? But we get bread with rice? And was that any better than the previous meal, which was pasta with bread? OK, finished complaining. Luckily I had bars, bars, and more bars with me. That’s about all I ate for two days. 

Warning: non-WLS-related details ahead! Skip ahead if you are only here for the WLS stuff.

Our new place is an apartment in a building with another new person (that’s a plus). It’s only about a 15 minute drive from the university, if traffic isn’t bad, and about a 10 minute drive to the sea, which is nice. It’s in an area with big fancy houses, and is the only apartment building, which means it’s quiet - and the local mosque is even fairly quiet, which is not a given in this part of the world. The apartment itself is big, but not very nice - three bedrooms and four bathrooms all to ourselves (I guess our cat gets her own room). It’s sparsely furnished, which makes me long for all of my nice stuff that is, sadly, sitting in a storage unit in the US for the year. The walls are freshly painted an ungodly shade of pepto bismal pink. 

The university seems nice so far - the campus is big enough that in the hot months you pretty much have to drive to class, but the grounds are pretty. Our department seems full of friendly, well-organized people. The classrooms and offices are nicer and better set up than I had imagined. All seems good so far. We spent the first week just doing paperwork: visas, driver’s licenses, utilities, phones, internet, bank account, etc, etc, etc. That stuff is a pain whenever you move, but at least there were people here to help with it. 

The weather has been pretty hot, but not as bad as we were expecting. It’s been in the 90s (low 30s C), but not in the 110s (44+C), like Dubai is getting at this time of year. Humid, though.

Back to the WLS stuff.

My food intake is going to be different here. Some of my staples are not easy to find or cheap here. Examples: cottage cheese is available, but it’s the British kind - it is not at all the same thing. Greek yogurt is available at a grocery store a fair drive from my house, but it’s Fage, so it’s imported, so it’s like $10 for a small tub, $4 for an individual pot - this means I will be hanging my yogurt to make my own Greek yogurt (hanging it in a cloth and letting the whey drip out turns it into Greek yogurt). Fake vegetarian meat is available! Quorn chik’n roast! Morningstar patties! Hooray! I was not expecting this here! Protein shake mixes are readily available. On the more positive side concerning food, I’m back to where I can get great Middle Eastern and Indian food, which I really enjoy. The spicy flavors appeal to my messed up post-WLS palate: if it’s really spicy, I can’t taste that it tastes weird. 

Some food challenges: lunch at school will probably have to be brought from home, even though I think most people eat in the dining room, so it’s a social thing. I will have to be that weird one with a Tupperware full of strange stuff instead of having what everyone else is having. I’ll deal. Another challenge: other faculty bringing nice things to eat. This is a very food-as-social-gesture culture, so saying no is hard. I’ve already had to say no to several lovely looking cakes. I hope I’m doing it gracefully. I worry about that. 

I managed to go out with a big group and not make a big deal of not drinking at a pub quiz - I kept getting soda water and limes, and I think it looked enough like a G&T to not be suspicious. I also managed to kick @$$ at the pub quiz, which I’m sure helped people overlook my suspicious not-drinking behavior. 

As a new hire, I have to undergo a health screening, the first part of which is over - it was just taking all the vitals plus getting a chest x-ray (for TB). It is a HUGE RELIEF to go to the doctor and not be afraid (I mean petrified!) of getting weighed and measured and stuff. I was like, lah-di-dah, sure you can weigh me with another person in the room. Whatevs. My pee test came back with ketones in it (I posted about that and others were kind enough to assure me that the doctor probably won’t suspect I’m dying or anything once I explain how I’m eating), and also I came up slightly hypoglycemic, but that was after hours and hours and hours of no food. It was a tough day. I get the real exam in a week or so, during which I’m sure I’ll be asked about my pee and also the giant nest of titanium staples that are very apparent, I’m sure, in my x-ray.

So, it’s time to join a gym. Fortunately, there is a faculty club on campus that has all the gym sort of stuff (weights, cardio machines, pool, tennis, etc.) and is very reasonably priced. How convenient is that? We looked around today, and it looks like a pretty good setup, so we’re going to hit the gym tomorrow! We’ve really just been mall walking since we’ve been here - it’s pretty hot out, and muggy besides, so a gym will be just the thing. I’m actually looking forward to it.

So far, my favorite part about this move is that I feel way more confident in meeting new people. It feels so great to just not have that 30% of my mind busy running myself down, and second guessing everything, and worrying about what I look like, and stressing about things like getting winded walking up stairs or feeling really hot and sweaty if I have to walk out in the hot weather, or trying to figure out what my next (punishment) diet is going to consist of. It’s just very freeing to not have all of those worries in my head. I can think about other things. I can focus on being more positive (I tend to be a teensy bit negative, or perhaps cynical). 

My weight loss doesn’t look like it’s slowing down much - in the past 30 days I’ve lost about 13 pounds. I’m still eating around 700 calories per day, I’m getting just shy of 10,000 steps per day, but I’m not really “exercising” at the moment, just walking when I can during the day. That all changes tomorrow: Gym Day. So, we’ll see how things go in the first few weeks here, but it looks as if all is well on the WL front. I currently have about 35 pounds to lose to get to goal, which sounds pretty good to me. I feel like I’m in a very good place at the moment, so I’m not in a huge rush to lose those 35 pounds. Getting closer…


Six months! I can't believe it. It's both flown by and dragged by, depending on my mood at the moment. Me six months ago seems like me in another life.

I have lost 99.2 pounds since my pre-op diet started, one month before surgery. I have lost 80 pounds since surgery (come on, scale, can't you give me one more little pound so I can have a round number?). In the back of my head, I had a fantasy that I dared not speak of... to lose 100 pounds by my six month mark. Looks like I failed. (JUST KIDDING, I PROMISE!) I am pretty much pinching myself every day now, and not just to check on my loose skin. I'm still about 40 pounds from my stated goal weight, which I reserve the right to alter as I approach it, but that seems like a totally doable thing. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing.

My size has decreased pretty dramatically - I am getting used to looking in the mirror and being OK with what I look like for the first time in a long time. I have a bunch of new clothes that actually fit me and aren't baggy to hide my silhouette, and they look pretty good! I'm shopping in the straight size stores with no problems at all, including some medium tops and large bottoms, with 14 mostly working. As a pear shaped person, that's to be expected. My boobs have decreased to a more reasonable size that doesn't much interfere with clothing purchases or vigorous exercise, so that's good. I'm starting to see a bit of loose skin, with flappy arms and jiggly thighs, but I would trade 10x worse loose skin for the weight loss I've had so far. I can always wear compression-y things. Depending on how things go, I could see some plastics at some point in the future, but I'm not really thinking about that yet.

I can move better and more easily. Walking fast up hills or stairs is no problem. Getting up from the floor is easy. Getting in and out of small places is a breeze. Crossing my legs is comfortable. Heck, just standing and sitting are more comfortable. Everything just seems a little easier and more comfortable. *yay*

I'm averaging about 700 calories a day right now, and I hit my protein goal of 65g per day about 95% of the time. Vitamins every day (I forget now and then but not often). Water is no problem for me, so I drink about 12 glasses a day or more. I've tried a few brands of protein shakes, and Syntrax Nectar (the first one I tried) is the one that tastes the best to me (best is relative here, though - sicky sweet protein drinks are not my fav). I eat a boatload of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, plus veggie fake meats and some fish and quite a bit of shrimp. I'm coming around to eggs (not their taste -yuk!) and can eat about 1 1/2 if I really try. I haven't really eaten anything I shouldn't yet - I mean, I've had like three french fries, five tortilla chips, and one tiny handful of popcorn over the last six months, really just to taste it. I haven't had any sweets or real junk food. I haven't had any real dumping episodes, but several fish-related very uncomfortable periods followed by losing the fish, which hasn't really been that terrible, just painful beforehand. Vomiting post-op is really more like when babies spit up milk - quick and not too gross, without the acid and nastiness.

My exercise has primarily been walking. I'm getting an average of 10,000 steps a day right now, including days when I'm in the car all day or whatever. I do some squats and modified push-ups and other stuff around the house. I'm waiting until after I move to join a gym - that'll be in less than 10 days (!!!). Due to weather constraints on the Arabian Peninsula (it's hotter than a [fill in your region's idiom of choice] until October/November), my outdoor walking will probably not continue.

My whole decision to move back to the other side of the world is really its own NSV. My husband and I have had rather bad luck in finding jobs we like here in the good ol' US of A, and we actually really enjoyed living in Dubai while we were there. However, at a higher weight, and hey, if we're being honest with each other, in the last few years there when the scale numbers were drifting ever higher, just the idea of having to sit on a plane for almost 20 hours was enough to kill my desire to go back to the Middle East. In fact, being so much heavier, I was really mentally suffering with the idea of looking for jobs at all - my self-esteem was low and getting lower. The svelter me is actually excited to start a new job and is not really worried about sitting on a plane. I mean, it'll be awful, but not like "I'd rather jump out the window than sit here for another 15 hours" awful.

So, my six monthaversary weekend: I drove to visit old friends in Seattle. We had a great weekend, catching up and chatting. I did not tell them about WLS. They are nice and would undoubtedly have been supportive, but they are thin, from families of thin people, and would not have understood. So I was just "doing low-carb" and "not very hungry." They've seen me lose and gain before, so they politely didn't even say anything beyond, "You look good." I wore great clothes, I walked around in a skirt without shorts things on underneath to prevent chafing (thigh gap is not a realistic goal for me, I think, but less thigh chafing? definitely), I felt confident seeing old friends, I was happy to meet new people, I had an evening out with a large group with no alcohol but a nice cheese plate, I walked and walked and walked and didn't get tired or out of breath, and I came prepared with all my gear to make sure I got my protein in (shakes and bars and string cheese and almonds). I am handling it

The one bad moment was a pretty bad one, though. My friend, bless her soul, has never been on a diet in her life, and has only a very general idea of what low-carb might mean. I offered to take them out to dinner (where I could order something appropriate), but she insisted on cooking. Too late I discovered that most of the dinner would be pretty carby, and served over white rice (?!). "Well," I thought, "I'll just dish up the other stuff and not take any rice and mutter something about carbs." Nope, I got to the table and discovered the dinner already there, plated nicely. Huge pile of white rice with carby stuff on top. "Wow," she said, "I think I dished up too much stuff! Those plates are really full!" "Yes they are," I replied out loud while shrieking silently in my head. It was enough for me for like three days. And that would be if it was low carb stuff. White rice? That might ball up in my stomach and get stuck for a month.

I smiled and sat down. My husband was making concerned eyebrows at me. I just gave it my all. I didn't try any of the rice, but I ate as much of the stuff off the top as I could. I ate until I couldn't, in a way that I never do now. It was really pitiful how small a dent it put in my plate of food. My friend was worried that I didn't like it, of course, which is basically how I played it off (well, politely saying that it was really good but still not eating much comes off that way pretty naturally, I guess). It was horrifying. I was really embarrassed. She was really embarrassed. The only good thing I can take away from this is: next time she'll let me take her out. It was a bad end to a good weekend, and it got me thinking about what to do in the future if this happens. I'm a bit at a loss. Any helpful tips, people who've been there?

I did run across this the other day, for situations where you get called out about weight loss if you're not open about it. It's pretty funny, if you haven't seen Clusie L's stuff before.


There's also this one, S#!T people say to bariatric patients. If you're ever feeling that those around you are not sensitive to your situation, this may be for you: 


I'll leave it right there, since Clusie L is just a whole lot funnier than I am.

Please be kind with the photos - I am so freaking nervous to post these here.




So, 196.6 puts me at a BMI of 29.9, at the top end of the overweight category - whew! So glad to have finally gotten there. Honestly, I do now actually feel like I'm just overweight, not obese. I can shop at normal stores (size L or 12/14 tops, size 14 pants), I look pretty OK in the mirror, and I don't worry about all the crazy things that I used to. I feel good. I have more energy. It's great.
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Just for a little reality check, here are some current worries:

  • My hair is still falling out some. It seems to be tapering off, but we'll see. It's fine/thin to start with, and now it's thinned to the point where it's definitely noticeable to me. I take loads of biotin and make sure my protein is good every day, and that's about all I can do, I guess. If you're interested in the science behind hair loss, Chemistry Queen on YouTube has a pretty good video on it: https://youtu.be/gI6li4nBpws
  • The bat wings. My arms have gotten a lot smaller (they're looking very normal in sleeves), but the sag is real. I'm doing some arm exercises to try to help out, but I realize that this is definitely a skin issue. It's been getting better and then worse in spurts as I lose - one week it's tighter, the next week it's looser, so I guess my body is working hard at doing whatever it does to the extra skin when the fat goes away. I'm hoping it ends up OK looking. I don't know if I'm mentally ready for plastics.
  • The sharpei skin. The skin all over my body is just a little loose, like I'm a sharpei puppy. I think this will probably go away, but it's kind of weird. I don't think anyone else has noticed it. It doesn't seem to be getting worse - I think I'm genetically blessed with fairly elastic skin, since I've lost quite a bit and am not having bigger issues than this. I also tend to carry weight sort of all over, rather than in one focused spot, so that may help, as well. We'll see as I get closer to goal.
  • I've started to feel the beginnings of hunger recently - I haven't really felt that since surgery. This isn't a problem yet, and I'm still eating really tiny amounts, but I can see how that might become more of a boogeyman as time goes on.
  • The taste aversions. Well, it's been almost 6 months, and I still don't like the taste of pretty much anything but fruit and some veggies. This may not sound like a problem for a person trying to lose weight (duh! It doesn't taste good, so I don't eat much!), but it's kind of hard to navigate life disliking all food. Anything protein still tastes bad. I've gotten used to it, as in I force myself to eat things that don't taste good, so I don't really notice the taste as part of the eating experience anymore, but it all still tastes pretty not good. This is connected to my sense of smell - everything also smells bad. Bitter things smell horrible and I can't face eating them at all. I can handle weak black tea, and that's about the bitterest thing. This means all nuts and beans taste terrible, which stinks because as a vegetarian, those are some pretty good protein sources. Even peanut butter tastes evil - like I made a horrible face when I put a little bit on my tongue. I've eaten almonds when I've been out and about and other protein sources are unavailable (so convenient, a pack of almonds!), but I just have to make myself do it. The flip side of all this is that I think if I stay like this, I run a pretty minimal risk of gaining weight again: I just don't like food very well.

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OK, that's a complete inventory of my WLS woes at the moment. They're not so bad. In comparison with all the good stuff, it really seems like no big deal.

I spent some time reading an article in the NYTimes Magazine from last weekend. It's called "Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age," and the author, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, is a woman who has had problems with her weight her whole life. The focus is basically on how awful the diet industry is (statistically unsuccessful, preying on desperate people's hopes, and really really not sure of what might actually work) and also how awful life for fat people is, whether they're actively pursuing weight loss or are accepting of their bodies. A lot of the article focuses on Weight Watchers, both historically and after Oprah bought a share of it, as well as on Oprah's own weight battles over the years. The author goes on her own WW journey (not her first) in the interest of the article. She also talks to various doctors and other experts. Sadly, she gives very little thoughtspace to WLS. I think the article gives a very good glimpse into the soul of a person suffering because of her weight - I can identify with many of her experiences and thoughts, and getting back inside the head of a person desperate for a solution to this problem was a little alarming to me. I recognize that desperation. I was haunted by it for most of my life. I feel really fortunate that I decided to look into WLS in a logical, evidence-based fashion instead of brushing it off as too extreme. Any person who is that unhappy needs to do something extreme if that extreme thing provides a reasonably good chance of success.

Finally, just as an update for those who are curious, I'm eating around 600-800 calories per day still. 65-90 g of protein. 30 g or so of carbs. What that looked like one day this week: 

Breakfast: 1/2 cup Greek yogurt plus 1/4 cup berries (it's strawberry season - yes!)

Lunch: Romaine salad with some olives and cheese, with one T of blue cheese dressing (I was at a pizza place and this was a side salad - nothing else appropriate available!)

Dinner: 3 oz cod cooked in a bit of butter

Snacks: 1/2 cup cottage cheese with some salsa, Syntrax vanilla shake made with Fairlife milk



I squeaked in under 200 this morning! 199.6, thank you very much. Whew! I was getting worried that I was going to stall out at 201 forever, but nope, it happened. That also puts me about three pounds above "overweight" BMI, which will be another big milestone. After obsessing about it for so long, I felt like there should have been a balloon drop in the bathroom when it happened, but apparently my husband had not arranged for that. Was a marching band too much to ask? I got a high five, which is OK, I guess.

I spent some quality time at my storage unit this weekend, sifting through the detritus of my nomadic lifestyle, getting ready for another move. I had several boxes of clothes to look through - some of them easy discards (stuff I wore last year, obviously too big now), some of them potential rescues. There was actually stuff in there that I shipped halfway across the world because I could not bear to give it up even though it was too small for me a couple of years ago. Let's focus on that for a moment, shall we? I was so in denial of how big I was getting that it was easier for my ego to pack them up and send them to the other side of the world in a container ship "for later" than to face the face the fact that I couldn't fit into them anymore. Nice work, brain. You are so good at rationalizing :rolleyes:

I was sad to say goodbye to a few of the things, but honestly, it felt so good to be getting rid of them because they were too big that I wasn't that bothered. I'm usually pretty level headed about getting rid of stuff I don't use, but clothing that has become too small is apparently my weak point (You'll ignore the self-evident logic gap here in my claim to be good at getting rid of stuff and my admission that I have a storage unit full of things I haven't used in two years. To be fair, I have been "traveling" for the last year, and I never did really settle down enough in the US to actually get everything out of storage - that should have been a sign, I suppose) On the positive side, I did find several things that now fit that haven't in years, and they can tide me over for a few months, I hope.

This week, I haven't had any shakes or bars to get my protein up. OK, I had one shake, but I was at a hotel and there was nothing healthy for breakfast. I got so sick of them on vacation that I just don't find the idea of them appealing right now. I know I'll go back to them, particularly the shakes, but it's nice to know I can get my protein in without having to consume them. I've been relying pretty heavily on dairy (yogurt and cheese and cottage cheese) to boost up the numbers every day, but I figure that's calcium so it's all right.

I've been for a few longish walks in the last week, and I have discovered that walking is OK even in hot weather and up hills if I am a lot less overweight. It's not totally exhausting! I don't get drenched in sweat! It doesn't feel like punishment! It's like I had totally forgotten that exercise, when you're thinner, actually feels good. When I'm thinner, I enjoy being active. When I am heavier, I do not. It sort of seems like a chicken and egg situation, but I do believe there's a bit stronger evidence behind exercise avoidance after weight gain than exercise avoidance therefore weight gain, at least in my case.

The paperwork for the move is all done and dusted, with a few remaining forms to be filled out for bringing the cat, which aren't terribly complicated. Yes, poor cat has to go on the plane. We have just a few loose ends to tie up before getting on the plane ourselves (sell the car), and just short of a month to get them done. I think we're ready. I've got a couple of likely gyms to check out in Muscat, as well as a GNC for my vitamins and protein stuff (thank goodness for globalization?). That said, there will be several months of above 100 degree temps in store for me when I arrive, so probably not a lot of long walks on the beach...



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. 











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.



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.



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).



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.


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 :)




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.




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! 






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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"Maybe I'm not eating enough calories."

"Maybe I'm not eating enough carbs."

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

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

"Maybe I need to exercise more."

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

"Maybe I need to drink more shakes."

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

"Maybe my scale is broken!"

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

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

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

I'm down 30 since surgery (Feb 14). 

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

Deep breaths. 


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



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

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

...and this is a good thing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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


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


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


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


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













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


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


Today's topic: How does WLS actually work? 


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


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


Hormonal changes


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


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


Microbiome changes


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

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


Resting Metabolic Rate changes


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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