Somehow this post has kept being put off... I meant to do it on the 9th, but ran out of brain. I've also been busy packing for the move - we're still waiting for our closing date, but we want to be ready. (It should be in the next two weeks!) My entire being has been focused on moving - to the extent that I think work is suffering a little. But I've managed to stay mostly on track with my eating and -- after a brief slump that was mostly weather-related - I've also gotten back to walking every day again.
Every night I go over in my head the things I want to talk about in this update... and then I fall into bed with a book and the next thing I know it's morning again. How does that keep happening! I've got a little list together now, though, so here goes.
ONEDERLAND - I'm in it! I officially went under 200# on 5/7/18, and now on 5/18/18 I'm at 194 - I do love the week of my period! I may be able to squeeze out another pound or two between now and Sunday if things go as they usually do this week. (Literally squeeeeeze - imagine wringing out a soaking wash cloth!) It's been weird, because I really didn't expect to get here. My surgeon didn't really think I'd get here, either. I haven't been here since I was in college! As of today I've lost 75% of my excess weight. How crazy is that?
Food - Like I said, I'm staying on track, keeping carbs low and protein high. I'm actually doing better with my protein lately, averaging around 80-90g a day. Net carbs wobble between 50-60 a day - a little higher than a lot of people go, I know, but I don't seem to have an issue at this level as long as most of them are the incidental carbs that come with my yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Calorie-wise, I don't keep close track - but I tend to average now around 1000-1100 a day. I'm planning to stay in this range until maintenance. As far as amounts go - I can definitely eat more in one sitting than I could before. Not a ton more - but enough that I don't have to eat five times a day to get all my protein in. I'm still getting a lot of my calories in the form of protein shakes, yogurt and cottage cheese! But I supplement that with nuts, cheese, sliced deli meat, eggs, and sometimes bacon or some chicken. Oh, and sashimi! I had that for dinner tonight. It was lovely.
Health - I feel so good lately! I mean, I've felt pretty good since surgery, but lately a lot of things seem to have gotten better. I get out of breath a lot less lately, even walking fast or climbing stairs; I can walk a lot further than I ever expected (I did 4 miles the other day at a pretty good clip - afterward I was tired and a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary.) Today I mowed the lawn, something I haven't done in the ten years I've lived here - front and back, and it's a double lot! Afterwards I could feel the hard work, but was still fine for doing all the stuff I normally do in a day. I can go up AND down the stairs in my house without holding onto the railing - I'm not quite brave enough to carry things downstairs because I'm still not quite sure of my feet, but it's still a thing I can do! And I can go up and down the stairs at work without holding on, too, and that's two flights. It's harder work, I'm definitely a bit out of breath by the time I get to the top, but I can do it. I had my yearly physical earlier this month, and my cholesterol and triglycerides are much much improved, and all in the normal zone; blood glucose totally normal (though it always has been), blood pressure was great, and my doc removed "sleep apnea" from my list of conditions! I think she's as thrilled with how short that list is getting as I am.
Maybe because this update is so late, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about, well, myself. So much has changed since surgery, I can't even really find a way to wrap my head around it. Many of the vets here have said they still think of themselves as fat or overweight, or still see themselves as fat, even in the mirror. For me - I find that every time I see myself in the mirror, it's kind of a shock. It's not that I think of myself as big anymore - I'm not, at least not like I was. But I definitely don't expect to see a person with a narrow face and cheekbones and a jawline. I don't expect visible collarbones. I don't expect narrow hips or a waist that visibly nips in above them. I don't expect narrow, non-sloping shoulders. And when I look in the mirror and see those things, it's jarring. I mean, wonderful - don't get me wrong! But definitely startling. Just yesterday I had to go to the office for a work thing, and to get into the building I have to walk along a sidewalk with a big wall of windows on one side. I turned my head as I was walking, and it was almost like a funhouse mirror, because my legs looked LONG and THIN. What??? I mean, I'm 5'3 - there is no part of me that is long. But my legs are now proportional to my body, and that makes them look long. So weird.
That's all stuff I really like about my new body... but there are things I don't like, too. That's ALSO weird. I'm used to just... one big uniform dislike: Fat! I never even really parsed it out into various fat parts like "double chin" or "big butt" - My fat was everywhere. I'm sure there was a time when I was going up the scale that fat landed preferentially on some parts before others... but by the time I was at my highest weight, it was just piled on everywhere. Now, I can look in the mirror and find specific things I don't like. My rosacea is a big one - it's pretty bad, and much more noticeable on a small thin face than it was on a big moon face. My jaw is pretty square, and I'm not quite fond of it (though I do love that I can actually see it now.) My new slim throat is a bit wrinkly. I mean, this is all minor stuff, nothing that I spend a lot of time thinking about - but it's just sort of novel to have specific things about my looks that I don't care for.
I'm also not particularly happy with the excess skin thing. At this point I'm pretty sure I'll be getting some plastic work done, sometime after I hit maintenance. Part of it is appearance - I'd like to do something with my upper arms because I'd really like to be able to wear a tank or a sleeveless cami now and then in the warm months, and my bat wings are immense and floppy. But part of it is comfort, too. My thighs have gotten a bit difficult to manage at night when I'm trying to sleep. I'm a side sleeper, and I have to consciously drape the flabby part of whatever thigh is on top, so that it doesn't fold over on itself and feel super bizarre. My belly and butt are also mostly flab now, but these can be camouflaged pretty easily with the right pants and some spanx. The bat wings are really the thing that bothers me most.
Anyway, I just mentioned what I'm not thrilled about for the sake of completion - in truth, those things are 100% outweighed by all the things I AM thrilled about. I still get compliments a lot, and I still really like that (though I still don't fully know how to react to it!). One of my coworkers from another department said, "You look so good... I think you have lost a whole me!" Which is true and then some; I'm pretty sure she doesn't weigh 161#! A neighbor stopped by while I was mowing the lawn today and said, "Kio, I have to tell you, you are so skinny now!" And a friend said, "Are you done? You look like you don't need to lose anything else." I just told her that my clothes were hiding a multitude of sins, and left it at that. It's true - I can definitely see where these last 54 lbs or so are "hiding" when I take a bath!
I've noticed some fun stuff, too. Like - my cat doesn't crawl over me in bed anymore. He used to do it every night, several times - and he'd kind of piton himself up like he was climbing a mountain, so I had all these scratches on my shoulders, where he always started his ascent. Now he just JUMPS over - because he CAN. No more scratches! And he's EIGHTEEN. So you know, he can't really jump that high! Also, I can cross my legs fully now, so that my calves line up (you told me I'd get there @CheeringCJ,and I did!). I can wrap my fingers all the way around my wrists so they overlap. And - the steering wheel feels very far away from me these days - nowhere near my belly!
Overall, I feel like I've had a good month. I'm looking forward to seeing how many more of those I can rack up on my way to goal!
I missed my 7-month post -- too much going on in my life, which has been both good and bad. The bad - my dog was attacked by another dog just over two weeks ago, and it was very scary, plus a very rocky recovery. The good-and-bad - we are selling our house and moving! I'm happy about it, but it's been super stressful. We live in a very hot seller's market, and the pace of things has been daunting. First, finding the place, making an offer, getting it accepted - that was suspenseful and crazy! Then a week or two of crazed cleaning-out-and-throwing-away-and-putting-of-things-in-storage, plus we had a painting team in for a week of that. Then once the place was in top shape we had to list, and since listing it's been a week of boarding the cats (except mine), day-boarding Sadie (who does not love day boarding, let me tell you), dealing with the things that cropped up in her recovery process, and having to live in a show-house for a week while people invade periodically.
We had a total of three open houses (the first for brokers) and on top of that, 30 buyers toured the place individually with their realtors. As I type this there's a showing happening - one of the last, since so far no one has booked anything for tomorrow morning. Offers are due by noon tomorrow, but we already have two in hand - both of which are good, and one of which is VERY good. So we're already hugely relieved, but we'd like to get back to normal life soon. The kind of life where you can cook for dinner without fear of lingering smells turning off potential buyers! Where you don't have to throw blankets over your sofa in the evening so your dog can sleep on it!
Back on the WLS topic... things are going pretty well. In spite of the stress, I haven't done a lot of stress eating. I've had a few things that are carbier than my usual fare, but nothing crazy. I HAVE missed a few vitamins, so now I'm working double hard on getting them in on time every day.
Sizes... I'm down to 16 jeans, and could probably go to 14's but I haven't had any time to try any on. My XL tops are pretty big on me now, but my belly isn't quite ready for larges yet (even though my shoulders definitely are!)
I'm in my monthly 3-week stall right now, hovering at 204. SO CLOSE to oooonederland! I'll definitely be there by the time I see my surgeon at the end of May... I just hope it'll be low enough that I register as under 200 on HIS scale, which routinely weighs me 3-4 lbs heavier than my home scale.
My weight loss has slowed down a bit, but shows no sign of stopping altogether, so I'm just keeping on. I've also noticed I can eat more at a time now, which is good... because it's a lot easier to eat half a thing and save the other half than it is to eat a quarter of it and save 3/4! I have leftover-fear, I always worry something will have gone off, or just be too difficult to eat after it has been in the fridge. I still can't eat a huge amount, but enough that I no longer need to eat six times a day to get a decent number of calories in. That's ALSO good. I still supplement with premier protein shakes now that I can drink them again, and I always hit my protein target. Water... is an ongoing struggle, especially on days that get busy. So I have to be on my toes if I want to hit that target.
I've noticed so many new things I can do, though! That's always fun. I notice something new almost every day. For instance, I can comfortably sit on my sofa with my elbows on my knees, my head propped on my hands, and watch TV. I could never do that before. I can look for things under the bed... and then get up on my own! Right now I'm sitting on a sofa, bent over to type on a laptop on a coffee table... much less belly in the way! I can carry things (small things) up the stairs! And when I sit in my recliner, there's just a ton more room, and I often tuck my feet up beside me.
Every day, there's something to remind me how glad I am I did this. It's seriously the best choice I've ever made for myself!
So first let me say, no one ever told me there was going to be a quiz. I've been saying "I'm 6 months out..." all month - not so! I was IN THE MIDDLE of my 6th month. So in fact the last few post titles are false, because I'm a loser and I have no math.
As of today, I'm officially REALLY 6 months out. *counts slowly on fingers to double check* Yep. I am ending month 6 and starting month 7 today!
This was another low loss month, thanks to the unpredictability of my period. My lowest yet, actually! I only hit 9# down this month - and the placement of that one as the last pound lost in month 6 instead of the first one in month 7 was an executive decision on my part, to make myself feel better. I probably lost it before midnight last night instead of after midnight - right?! That's my story.
So the good news is, my period did finally arrive and busted what had been a 3 week stall. That was my longest stall yet. I kept meaning to stop weighing daily - I just couldn't make myself do it. And I may just not be that girl! I can skip a day here and there, but overall I just need to know where things stand. I think if I got to the end of a month and found I was only 5 lbs down for the month - at this point in the process - I would wig out a bit.
What I DID do, though, is check my average rate of weight loss per month - and that is a very respectable 13.67# per month so far! Plus, I just went back in time - I've been re-reading this blog from before surgery up to now. At the end of my 3-month post, I found this: "...and I honestly can't wait to see where I am at the end of month 4, and month 5, and month 6... Assuming I keep losing at a rate of around 15 per month, in 3 months I could be around 210. And THAT would be a number for the record books for me - the last time I was anywhere near 210 I was actually 212, and it was 1995... " So in spite of two "lowish" loss months (10 and 9 lbs respectively), here I am at the end of month 6 sitting at 216#. Just about where I predicted! 4 more # and I'll be at my 1995 weight. And I think I'll also be in the neighborhood of 200 (still above, but near!) by my birthday in April (which is the 9th, so one day past my measurement day anyway). In other words - big picture, I feel right on track.
Looking at my stats a little differently... I started out with 215# of *excess* weight. I've now lost 139# of that, which is 65% of my excess weight gone. Which leaves me at 216# today. My total weight right now is just ONE POUND HIGHER than my original excess weight total! And I only have 77# to go to my final goal. And only 46# to go to reach my mini-goal - which was to get down to Leah's weight (170).
I've actually thought about changing my goal to be Leah's weight, period - because maybe I should let that be my "I have DONE it!" point. I've always thought Leah looks fine as she is, and is a good healthy weight. Granted, I have thought this mostly from my status as a 355# person - but I still think it. All that remains is to see how her weight looks and feels on MY body. But since I have this tool, I want to work it as hard as I can for as long as I can to have a "buffer" - if I can get to 140 or lower without looking or feeling gaunt or unhealthy, I want to! I dunno. I keep talking myself into and back out of resetting my goal in the ticker and sidebar at 170. (One thing is sure - 170 is when I will stop talking about how much weight I lose around the house! I don't see that going down well if I keep losing. )
I've had some cool NSVs this month. I went for the Winter Walk, which was 2 miles and cold and wet, but awesome to be able to do. And day before yesterday, at work, I went both up and down the big flight of stairs in our office with my team and went like a normal person - barely holding the rail, just for balance, and not having to get both feet on a single step before moving up to the next with both feet. One foot on one step at a time! And down the same way! Ok, down I felt a LITTLE wobbly, but I made it, and it didn't even hurt. I've had some more compliments come my way - one from a neighbor I haven't really seen all winter, and one from a neighbor I've never even really spoken to, we've just seen each other around (usually during Shoveling Events!). So that was kind of cool.
As for my overall status at 6 months out? I feel really good. My back has continued to bother me at random times, but I think the overall trend in that area is better. I feel stronger, more energetic, more capable. I can do a ton more around the house and the yard. I sometimes feel almost normal! There are still things I can't do, but there are a lot fewer than there used to be. Exercise is easy and fun - I walk up to 3.5 miles a day now, if I break it into two walks, and it's never really hard anymore. Plus I got an under-desk elliptical machine - basically just pedals with resistance - that I use a lot throughout the work day to keep my blood flowing.
Eating has become easier - I can eat a full container of yogurt at a time, and meals with more than one thing in them (though they're still very small meals). I stay on plan, and I probably still eat only 800-1000 calories a day - though I've had some days a lot lower than that, here and there. Most of the time I hit my protein goal of 65g/day, and a lot of the time now I get up to 80-85g of protein a day. My net carbs stay under 50 a day, which is where I seem to do best. I've been doing really well with water lately, too - I almost always get 64 oz in, sometimes more!
In terms of WHAT I'm eating... I still do a protein shake every day, sometimes two if I get too busy to stop and eat. I still eat a lot of yogurt - now mostly in the form of Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurts. I make low-carb meat dishes in the instant pot - most recently a hamburger stew that was really good. I occasionally make some of the Eggface ricotta pancakes, though those have some bulk to them and I can usually only eat one, maybe two. I recently found some sandwich thins I like that are high in fiber content and low in carbs - they come with a "top" and a "bottom" and I only ever use one or the other per day. It's a nice, on-plan delivery system for lunch meat and cheese, and they don't give me any cravings, so I'm pretty happy. I've added some sodium-heavy things to my rotation - cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, or cheddar or parm cheese whisps (which are just baked cheese, super low carb). I've added a new probiotic in addition to the PB8, and I still take fiber gummies every day; I've also gotten better about remembering to do miralax every day - so my constipation problem has abated for now, and hopefully for good if I stay on top of things. I really can't afford to let those things slide, because the alternative is SUPER PAINFUL and no fun at all.
The last issue for updating is my skin, which - yeah, it is super loose right now. Maybe it will tighten up, maybe not, but I can't deny that it's getting kind of annoying. My arms basically look like they belong on a giant flying squirrel, and my thighs are actually uncomfortable in bed sometimes, because of the way things almost fold over completely. The more I lose, the more I think I may actually look into plastics eventually. But I think that is far in the future - maybe even a year past goal weight, assuming I get to goal. For one thing, I don't really relish the idea of another surgery (or more than one...). And for another, it'll have to be self pay, and I have no idea how I could afford it. It's just an annoyance right now, not anything dire - and it may improve as I lose weight, so I'm not making any decisions right now.
And that's my endless update for the first six months - thanks for sticking with me!! =D
Whine, you know, is super low carb. Sadly, also low protein.
This isn't really a serious whine - just a touch of frustration. Part of it is with my weight loss pattern, and part of it is with my crazy brain.
So - like many of the other ladies here, my weight loss follows a specific pattern in tune with my monthly visitor. I tend to lose almost all my weight each month just before and just during my period. Even on months when my period doesn't show (I'm just starting to get it back) -- the symptoms do, and the pattern holds. So I lose a big bump of weight in about a week, a week and a half....
And then, for the rest of the month, zip. Zero. NADA!
You would think, since I'm fully aware of how this works, I'd be fine with it. Maybe even fine enough to stop weighing during the weeks that I know I won't be losing much if anything. But I'm not that gal - I weigh every day, and every day when I see the same weight (or a pound up, then a pound back down, then a pound up and then down again) I have this little internal "ugh!" of frustration.
It doesn't help that my cycle is kind of uneven. So my weight loss may "bunch up" in one month if I have a weight loss phase both at the beginning and the end, or it may lead to a month where I lose very little because my cycle hits just outside of my monthly measurement window.
The problem is - my brain. There's what I know with my sane, rational brain - that this is all about my cycle, that it's mostly water retention followed by flushing, yadda yadda yadda. And then there's what my crazybrain whispers at me: "The honeymooon period is over." "This is as close to goal as you're ever going to get." "Well, your doctor SAID you might not make it down to 200." Etc, etc, etc.
Right now I'm in my monthly stall phase, and though my body is telling me it's probably about to start losing again, my crazybrain is still whispering mean things at me when I least expect it.
It doesn't make me do anything differently... but it does sometimes make me a bit sad, when sadness is totally uncalled for. In fact, this is one of the happiest times of my life - I'm healthier, stronger, more fit, more able than I have been in over a decade. I just sometimes need to call myself out on it, so I can see in print how silly I am...
I can't believe it's been six months since my surgery today. It doesn't seem like reality. It seems like just yesterday I was drinking protein shakes and eating plain greek yogurt... OH WAIT THAT'S BECAUSE IT WAS! Yeah, my diet has advanced significantly, but yogurt and protein shakes are still my main staples.
I'm happy to report that my trouble keeping things down is in the past. The past month or so I've been doing really well on that score. I still sometimes eat the wrong thing (by which I mean something my pouch doesn't like) or eat something too fast, and end up bent over the toilet. But it's an extreme rarity now. I think I've gotten a lot better at slowing down and picking my foods. In addition to yogurt and protein shakes, I sometimes eat cheese, or some chicken or fish in a sauce, or sausage, or bacon, or eggs (breakfast foods seem to work pretty well for me). Fruit generally works, though I've really only tried berries in yogurt. I've eaten the top off a pizza slice once or twice. I can eat meat loaf, and I can definitely eat mozzarella sticks (well, I can eat one mozzarella stick!) I'm sure there's other stuff I've tried, but I can't remember it all now. I feel like I'm eating pretty normally, just a lot less. And of course it's a weird new normal that doesn't include junk food or any of the stuff I used to eat. I'm totally fine with my diet right now. I'm usually somewhere between 800-1000 calories a day, and most days I hit my protein goals. I still don't really get hungry; I get food-wanting spells, but they're pretty easy to either ward off or just feed with something that's actually good for me.
I still struggle with water, though - that's the hardest thing for me, and probably always will be. The funny thing is, I can gulp all I want - I haven't had any issues with that at all. But at the back of my mind there's this voice saying "ugh, if you drink all that you'll have to pee every five minutes all night." And that voice is not actually wrong. I try to frontload the liquids but it's just a really hard mental block to overcome.
My walking has stalled out a little because of the weather, but I'm not too bugged about that. I have my "Walk for Homelessness" coming up on the 11th, which is 2 miles, and I'll have to walk about half a mile to get to it. As long as I can still do the distance I've hit so far, I'm happy to wait by the fire until spring to get more ambitious.
So, stats. My weight is 225 right now, and my BMI is I think 39.8? Something like that. So I've lost 130 lbs total since April - 73 of that since surgery on September 8th. That is over 35% of my starting weight, friends... a third of me is gone, an entire person's worth of weight. Kind of mindblowing. I have passed my surgeon's "success" weight for me, which was to lose 60% of my excess body weight - 129 lbs. I'm only 55 lbs away from my original goal, which was 170 - Leah's current weight (not a coincidence!). And I haven't slowed down yet - after a pretty lackluster month 5 (only 10 lbs lost), I lost 16 this month. I'm hoping I can do something close to that next month too, and really surprise my surgeon when I see him on March 29th!
Beyond that, the proof is in the pics, right? The new ones are at the bottom... I put in a few old ones just to remind myself how far I've come.
9 months ago:
6 months ago - Surgery day!
3 months ago (well, 11 weeks...)
And now just updating with my photo from after the Boston Winter Walk for the Homeless: that's me (left) and my bff/housemate Leah (right).
Hi, TTFam. It's been a crazy month for me so far, so I figured why not go wild and post off my usual monthly schedule? This goes on for a bit, as usual, covering every thought that has crossed my mind for the past 3 weeks...
This month so far has been all about my back. Around Saturday last week, my upper back started hurting quite a lot. I put it down at first to increase in exercise - I'm trying to walk a bit faster as well as a bit farther these days. But it got worse through the day, and a lot worse on Sunday - Sunday night it was very hard to sleep through it. I landed in the ER in the middle of the night Monday, because I woke up from pain that increased sharply when I took a deep breath. On my surgeon's (long ago) advice when I first started the program, I went to the ER for his system - Brigham & Women's. That meant a 3am trip into Boston with me driving, since Leah is scared of driving in the city. Awesome!
For those of us in the healthcare professions, some quick details. They put me on an EKG right away - no sign of heart attack. Checked my O2 sat, which was fine. Vitals all normal. Blood tests normal. Actually, my blood pressure was pretty awesome. Listened to my breathing, and everything sounded great. They didn't check d-dimer because I have an autoimmune condition - my d-dimer results are always slightly elevated due to inflammation from that. They did a CT with contrast, and around noon Tuesday, the CT results finally came back - everything was normal, so I wasn't having a pulmonary embolism, either. The clotting issue was what I was worried about, given some of the recent troubles of @Ronny and @Ladybugzzz86! I was in the ER for a total of 8 hours, most of which was waiting. In the end, it was ruled as something musculoskeletal, and I was referred to my PCP.
Honestly, I was pretty sure it was something like a pinched nerve, but you just don't want to screw around with anything that causes you pain when you breathe. PE symptoms vary widely person to person, but that's a big one. Plus ,when you're a woman of a certain age, the list of heart attack symptoms is longer and weirder than an L. Ron Hubbard novel, so I just wanted to be on the safe side. Also, the pain was mid-to-upper back, with no arm pain, so I felt it was likely to be somewhere in the thoracic area - and thoracic spine issues are pretty rare. So I was a good do-bee and went in to make sure of my self-diagnosis.
They sent me home with oxy, which was a bit funny because just Monday morning I'd sent an NYT article to my team about the oxy addiction epidemic in New Hampshire. Because I've just stopped using my CPAP without getting re-evaluated yet for sleep apnea (bad me, but the CPAP was making it HARDER to sleep, not easier), I didn't take any oxy before I slept, which was most of Tuesday. I did take one when I woke up on Wednesday, and another when I woke up on Thursday. That was enough oxy for me - it is beyond me how people can use that stuff recreationally. Between feeling loopy and constipation issues, whyyyyy???? Haven't touched it since. I am, however, now out of liquid tylenol.
Thursday and Friday were my infusion days (autoimmune thing, every six weeks I do a two-day infusion, about 4 hours a day) and blissfully, my infusions come with steroids. So right now my back is feeling mostly fine again. I haven't really walked since Sunday, so today I'm going to start again, just at an easier pace and shorter distance.
Unrelated to my ER trip or my narcotic prescription, I've also been dealing with some serious constipation for about a week and a half now. I'm not very good at remembering miralax, and my water intake has not been the best. I'm going shopping for psyllium today that I can add to shakes and whatnot, and I've ordered some of the probiotic @cinwa often recommends (PB8)! I'm also going to pick up some milk of magnesia just to kick things off right while I wait for the probiotic to arrive.
One of my little mental tricks for handling stalls is that my current weight on my ticker or sidebar only ever go DOWN. When I'm stalled, bouncing around between numbers, I never revise it upwards. So for instance, right now my sidebar reads 234, but I weighed in this morning at 236. Yesterday it was 237. So 234 is 1) what I assume my actual weight is most likely to be, since it's common to play around with water weight in a few-pound range, and 2) my new temporary goal. At this point I also have to assume the gain is related to constipation - stuff is going in... nothing is coming out!! (I also tend to gain a pound or two with infusions that drains off pretty quickly, so there's that.)
At any rate, this bouncing has been going on for less than a week, so I'm not even really calling it a stall. Just ... an annoying occurrence.
Switching gears for some good stuff - the reason I tried to increase my walking speed and distance is that I signed up for the Boston Winter Walk for Homelessness with a team at work! It's February 11, and it's just 2 miles around the Copley area downtown, but this is the first time I've ever - like EVER in my life!! - signed up for anything like this. My normal dog-walking distance is 1.9 miles, which I do every day that the weather is nice enough, so it shouldn't be a stretch for me. But dog-walking speed with my dog is not good enough for public viewing. Sadie isn't happy with a walk unless she has sniffed all of creation on the way. I wanted to be sure I can keep up with the pack!
I also sat down on the floor last night and got up again without help. I probably could have done this two months ago too, but it's one of those things that it didn't occur to me to try. For so many years, the impossibility of that simple action just made it... not a thing I would even consider. But I'd like to be doing more exercise, and I don't want to pay for a gym, so in addition to walking, Leah and I are going to get some exercise mats and work out together to videos - weights, sit-ups, push-ups, planks, core stuff.
And... I'm practicing with stairs. Right now I can walk up a few short steps without holding onto anything, but it's uh... not pretty. After years of having to hold on for support, my balance is totally non-existent, and I don't have any strength in the muscles that keep you from wobbling all over the place when climbing. Every day I do a short "step routine" on the bottom step of our stairs - up and down as many times as I can without falling over. Just being able to do one is new. Now I can do like... fifteen or twenty. When I can do more, without effort, I'll try going all the way up without holding on. But I'm deathly afraid of falling, so that's still in the future. How great will it be, though, to be able to actually CARRY STUFF UP THE STAIRS. Some of my workarounds to get stuff from the first to the second floor of my house over the past few years have been extremely MacGyveresque.
Finally - and this is super exciting for me - I can now access the Brigham patient gateway again! Something went wrong with my account in mid-October, and after months of waiting, they finally were able to fix it this past Wednesday. I have a LOT of doctor's appointments in my life due to my autoimmune condition. I have to see my dermatologist every three months, and now every ONE month since I'm on accutane; also because of accutane, I have to get a pregnancy test at my PCPs office every month; I have to get my eyes checked by an ophthalmologist every six months because of one of my autoimmune meds; and now I have bariatric appointments all the time - nutrition, psych, PA, surgeon. So being unable to access the patient gateway has been a huge problem for me. I organized my life through that gateway, and I've felt blind without it. I'm SO EXCITED it's back and I can just look up when appointments are again, and print out schedules!
And what I have learned is that my next bariatric appointment is with my actual surgeon, and it's on March 29. I haven't seen him since the day after surgery - I see his PAs at my regular check-ins. As much as I would love being under 200 by the time I see him, that is an impossible dream. But if I lose even 10# between now and then, I'll have lost over 60% of my excess weight - so he should be pretty happy with me! (and if I lose 20# by then, I'll be around 215 - within spitting distance of Onederland!!! I won't make it there by my birthday (April 9, first day of Month 7) but May is not out of the question...)
I don't know if my weight loss is actually slowing down, or if my weight loss timing is just weird - most of my weight loss happens right after my period, and then I stay stalled for a bit, then lose again after the next one. Sometimes this bridges the end of my months in a weird way. But the first flush of BIG loss months seems to be over now. It looks like I'm in a 10-12/month range now, and I just hope that continues - I can take a slow down, as long as it doesn't stop!
Hashtag FLO - For Ladies Only!
So before surgery, for about six years, I had no period, or maybe like... one a year. I'm only 46 now, so my docs did tests to find out if I was in early menopause, and I wasn't... it was obesity-related amenorrhea. (I have probably spelled that wrong.) Before that, my periods were always super light - we're talking maybe a teaspoon a day, rarely enough to even bother with a pad. I had cramps right before, and they were in about the area you'd expect, and not at all bad. More like tenderness and vague discomfort. Occasionally a sudden sharp OW and then done.
Now that I've lost so much weight - about 40 lbs more now than I ever lost even on Paleo - my periods are coming back. Again, my doc wanted to make sure I was not in menopause and this was not abnormal vaginal bleeding, so I got tests done again, and I am still not in menopause, and this is just a period.
BUT IT IS SO DIFFERENT.
I mean... different in some ways, but in other ways just the same. Like, totally recognizable as a period; I knew it was just a period even before the test results were in. But... my first period after surgery was bad, but I had been told to expect that, and I was ready for it. It was only bad in terms of heavier bleeding, and lasting longer. And now... this month... not a ton of bleeding this time, but I'm just miiiiserable. My stomach - ok, not really my stomach, but my digestive area in the belly region... is just tender and bloated and owwie. Which is making me tense up there, and that in turn is more discomfort. I'm totally constipated and nothing is working on it, and there are cramps, and I feel gross, and just... UGH.
Is this what a normal period feels like? Or is this some kind of post-surgical hopped-up period and it won't always be this bad? I kind of missed my period while it was gone, mostly because it meant I was too unhealthy to have one. But it was also kind of nice NOT to have one! If this is going to start being a once a month event... DO NOT WANT!
So for those of you who saw my whinge about stalling... my stall is broken! 5 lbs worth of broken. I believe the stall was courtesy of my period, which comes and goes like the west wind these days.. and since yesterday, the west wind has been blowing. (My doc has had me do all the necessary tests, and there's nothing wrong... apparently this is just how it works when your period slowly comes back after being shut off by obesity for as long as mine was.)
Stats update: I'm down a total of 117 lbs as of today - 57 before surgery, 60 since surgery. I only marked a 10 lb loss in month 4, but then lost 3 lbs between the 8th and today. Go figure! I guess that's month 4's gift to month 5.
Some milestones I've crossed since I started month 4: I have now lost more weight since surgery than I lost before surgery. I'm closer now to goal than to my high weight. And I have less than 100 lbs between me and goal as of this morning!
And that's my super ambitious goal, too. The original goal I had set for myself, before I got wild and brave, was 170. I am only 68 lbs from that goal today. And only 68 lbs from catching up with Leah, who tells me she is now feeling the heat! Honestly, I think Leah looks great at the weight she is, so if I can get there? I would consider myself hugely successful, even if I never made it to my ambitious goal. Plus, I wouldn't have to go shopping! We're the same height, and Leah has awesome taste in clothes and is willing to share!
As for my program's goal for me... Originally it was 226. That's just the formula - losing 60% of my "excess" weight would put me there. I'm 12 lbs away from that today. At my last weigh-in/checkup, they declared me "ahead of the curve" for weight loss at this stage, but weren't willing to suggest I might eventually get to normal BMI (my ambitious goal).... now they think getting under 200 would be wildly successful. I asked if they thought I could do better than that, but "under 200" was all they would sort of commit to. So they will pat themselves on the back 39 lbs from now.
Back when I first started, it was hard for me to believe I was 215 lbs over "normal" BMI for my height. And it was super hard to believe that I could ever lose that much weight. Now I'm over halfway there, and I am starting to see it as a real possibility. It's kind of amazing! (Also, hilariously, I am now 3 lbs under the weight @CheeringCJ was at her starting point! I'm coming for you, CJ! )
Food stuff: All good on that front. My nutritionist was right (how often do you hear THAT around here?!) - I was eating too fast. I've slowed myself down a lot now, and for the past two weeks I have only thrown up once. That was last night, when I got carried away with some very delicious chicken satay. Dense protein is still something I have to be super careful with, and though I ate less than 4 ounces, I did it too quickly. I'm mostly hitting my protein and water goals now, so I feel like I'm really on track. I probably get between 800-1000 calories a day at this point. I stay under 40ish grams of carbs, and the rest is protein and fat.
Other stuff: Can we talk about pants sizes??? OMG. So frustrating. About a month and a half ago (I think) I bought a single pair of 20 jeans, which were super tight at the time. I wanted them to last a while! They were tight everywhere - calves, thighs, butt, belly. But I could put them on and zip and button them, so I bought them. For the first two weeks, I often wore them around unbuttoned for comfort (hey - I work from home, I do what I want!) But now... now they are officially too big. They are super baggy in the butt and thighs, there's a big gap in the waist band at my back, and even loose on my calves (which are weirdly muscular and thick even without as much fat on them). AND YET THEY STILL FEEL TOO TIGHT IN THE BELLY. How is this even possible? I am mentally, emotionally and 95% physically ready to move down to 18's... but my belly won't cooperate. Granted, I haven't tried ON any 18's yet... I just feel like there's no point as long as these are still feeling tight in that area. Ugh. I don't know how jeans fit on other people, but me... I have two distinct bellies, and upper one and a lower one, and the waist bands of my jeans sit between the two. THAT is the part that is still thick enough to need a 20, even though everything from there hangs down off me like a sack.
And then... there is my skin. I remember when I first found this place... one of my first posts was a question about excess skin. (In fact, here's that post: https://tinyurl.com/yc9c2dsr ) 117 lbs later, I can report that oh yeah, I have some saggy baggy skin in places. My thighs, in particular, have started to take on the crinkly wrinkly look of empty plastic grocery bags. My upper arms, particularly underneath close by my shoulders, are saggy and floppy. My butt I have not examined closely, as it is behind me , but I can tell there is some sagging and wrinkling going on back there when I shower. My belly isn't very saggy or wrinkly, because I'm not losing much fat there!!!! (ugh).
But my boobs... well. At my last mammogram I told the tech, "Hey, good news! These come pre-flattened, for your convenience!" I have always been pretty small in the chest for a fat chick - I never got beyond a C-cup even at my highest weight. (Do you know how hard it is to find like, a size 56 C bra? Do you have any concept of how EXPENSIVE one is?) I got by mostly on Just My Size sports bras, which I actually still own and wear. They are really, really comfy. However. A few days ago, at the end of the day, I took my shirt off to get ready for bed and found that one of my boobs had slid out of the bottom of the sports bra sometime during the day and I HAD NOT EVEN NOTICED. So super glad that day that I do work from home!
However... it honestly isn't bugging me as much as I feared it would. For one thing, I am not partnered (and don't ever plan or want to be - that's just how I roll). The only person who sees me even partially naked is Leah, who is unlikely to care (or, to be honest, even notice - she really only sees her own body issues, not anybody else's!). The only people ever likely to see me in a bathing suit are great friends who also will not care (plus there are bathing suits these days that cover a multitude of flaws). I'm more excited about my new mobility than worried about my looks. Maybe that's because I'm older - if I did this in my thirties, maybe I would care more, but if I did this in my thirties, I'd probably have less loose skin to worry about anyway. My clothes currently hide everything I want to hide, with the exception of a little wrinkling in my neck. Everybody thinks I look awesome - *I* think I look pretty awesome with my clothes on! Certainly worlds better than I did before.
Anyway, there is excess skin, but it doesn't impede me in any way, so right now I'm not worrying about it. Eventually I may do plastics, just so clothes fit better. I'll definitely do a panniculectomy at the very least, because it'll be covered by insurance and I tend to get uncomfortable rashes under there. But that is a concern for after goal, and right now? I'm doing pretty good with it all.
(I know this post is endless, but I'm not quite done yet. I'm a writer by profession and a rambler by constitution, and since I'm socially aware enough to NOT blast everyone around me with my constant thoughts on WLS and weight loss and basically talking about myself constantly.... you guys get the blow back. )
I just wanted to talk a little more about how I feel about things now, as opposed to how I felt 9 months ago. I weighed 355~ lbs on my last birthday. If I keep losing 10ish lbs a month, I will be getting really close to 200 on my next one (April 9). The change is, pardon the pun, immense. 9 months ago I was essentially disabled. I could barely walk around my house. I was in near-constant pain any time I wasn't sitting down or lying down. I'm 5'3", and the pressure 350+ lbs put on my frame was debilitating. I huffed and puffed any time I had to walk - and I'm talking any distance. Like getting from my recliner to my fridge was painful and got me out of breath. I distinctly remember one afternoon after work - I got off the bus a block and a half from my house, and by the time I got to the house my knees and ankles hurt so much, and I was so out of breath, that I started crying. It was pain and self-pity and anger - Leah always got home first back then, why wouldn't she come and pick me up at the bus stop? She knew how much walking hurt. (Not that I had ever even asked her to - too proud for that. She was just supposed to KNOW and do it, right?) I felt hideous, too - fat and ugly, uncomfortable at all times even when I wasn't in pain.
Now... I can't even explain how different things are. Yesterday I took the dog out for a walk, and after about a half mile decided to turn and go the short route home. Because I was worried about the dog's feet on the ice and rock salt, and because I was cold. More than that, I decided. After half a mile! I could have gone on for another two miles. I have gone on for two more miles on some days! In point of fact, I don't know how far I can go at this point - we usually do about 2 miles, but the dog is set in her ways, so we always go the same route. And it doesn't hurt, it doesn't tire me out. I can go out and shovel snow for an hour and come in and stand around talking. I can go up and down my stairs twice or three times and not be out of breath. I sleep better. I often sleep all the way through the night - I never did that before surgery! I no longer need a CPAP machine. I'm not afraid of airports or train stations - I can walk as far as I need to walk. I don't worry about stopping to rest before going in to my boss's office at work, even if I'm coming in from the far parking lot - there's no redness or huffing and puffing I need to conceal. I can walk around a grocery store or a department store for an hour and then out to the parking lot and not even feel it. A while back, when I'd lost about 50 lbs from my high weight, I posted that I couldn't imagine what things would feel like after 50 more pounds. Now I know - it feels STUPID GOOD, that's what it feels like.
And now I can't imagine what it will feel like in 50 more, but I do know I'm really, really looking forward to it.
It's really hard to wrap my head around it, but today is the start of month 4 / end of month 3 after surgery! Getting the business stuff out of the way...
Weight loss: I was 355 when I started this process in April, 298 on surgery day, and I'm 251 today. That's 57 lbs lost before surgery and 47 lost since - a total of 104 lbs down! My monthly post surgery stats are: M1: -17, M2: -14, M3: -16. So I'm giving myself an A+ for the first quarter in the weight loss department. You November newbies reading this, take note - M2 is when I had my long stall, and I STILL lost a lot, and bounced back in M3. So cut yourselves some slack! I'm super excited about where I am right now. I'll be under 250 soon and I haven't been there in over 10 years.
Vitamins: I have generally done well with my vitamins, though I've recently had a rough patch - I'd say about a week and a half - where I've been doing very poorly with them. I'm working hard on getting back on track now. I give myself a B- on this part, because I absolutely know how important it is and I'm not letting it slide.. More on why I've been struggling in the next part...
Protein/Water: This part has been super hard for about.... two or three weeks, I'd say. And this is why I haven't been doing well with vitamins. For a little while now, every time I put something in my mouth, there's about a 50/50 chance it's coming right back out. Could be anything - vitamins, meds, a protein shake (diluted), or food of any variety - soft, puree, dense, whatever. Honestly, at first I thought I had a stricture. But I watched some videos online, and I'm pretty sure it's just that I'm eating too fast/too much. My evidence for this is that SOMETIMES things do go down! I think if i had a stricture, it would be more all-or-nothing past a certain consistency. But there are days when I can't get a protein shake down... but later I can eat ground beef. It's just a toss-up (literally).
And it's not about nausea - if it were, I'd be more worried. I'm never nauseated. I haven't had any nausea since surgery, except for one terrible tuna incident - and even then, the nausea hit WHILE I was already throwing up. No, this is about starting to feel terrible in the pouch area, burping and hiccuping repeatedly, and finally needing to make myself throw up in order to be comfortable. Which is imperative, because if I DON'T make myself throw up when this happens, it will be hours before I can eat or drink again. And then I'm behind on my protein goals, behind on my water goals, behind on my vitamin goals... etc. So this has been a pretty bad couple of weeks, and I'm pretty sure it's because I got cocky, and I hadn't been doing some basic things I needed to do:
1) Measuring carefully. So what I've figured out is that for me, since I don't have any "full" signal until it's far too late, I needed to measure my food. Not necessarily so I don't eat too many calories, because that is so not the issue, but because I can't eyeball the food and know for sure that it's not going to overload the pouch. I know, for instance, that I can eat 4 oz of yogurt, but only just BARELY 2 oz of salmon. And I need to measure those exactly using a scale, because if I eat even one bite too many, I'm losing the whole meal, and then everything deteriorates and chaos ensues on all fronts.
2) Stop beating my head against the wall. So, there's some stuff I can't eat! And I just can't eat it. It's not going to get better for a while, so I just need to stop trying. So far the things I've identified are tuna, chicken unless it is SUPER SUPER MOIST AND FRESH, packaged lunch meat, and any kind of protein shake at all. Yeah - at this point I HAVE basically tried all the protein shakes there are, and something about them has stopped working for me. I was fine with them in month one, but in month two they became hit or miss, and now they are just a solid miss every time. And it's gotten to the point that I don't even want to look at them - they are sitting in my fridge, Leah swears she will drink them, but they make me feel ill every time I see them. So if she doesn't drink them this month I'm going to get rid of them with or without her blessing.
3) Embrace what I CAN eat. This was the hardest thing, because I'm not one of those lucky people who lost all interest in food after surgery. I don't get physically hungry, ever - but I still do like food, and I like variety in my food. However, there have been days that I've been reduced to nothing but yogurt and protein bars, and I am truly, truly tired of yogurt and protein bars. Even the Oh Yeah/One bars, which are pretty good as far as protein bars go. I have also had some pretty astonishingly low calories days over the past couple of weeks - in addition to low protein - so I've had to just suck it up and eat cheese and yogurt on some days.
The good news is, I'm actually getting the hang of it again. I've had three days in a row now without throwing up even once, and I've been hitting my protein goals, and getting in 800-900 calories a day. Now that the food situation has stabilized a bit, I'm getting my vitamins and water back on track, too.
So here, for example, is what I'm eating lately:
- Siggi's triple cream yogurt in various flavors - they come in 4 oz containers which is totally perfect for me right now. Sometimes I add some granola.
- Carr's cheese melt crackers with gouda or swiss cheese on top - they're 8 carbs for 3 crackers, so I don't feel too bad about it if I only do it once a day.
- Salmon with butter/lemon/garlic, which is delicious.
- Shrimp with butter/lemon/garlic - thank you, all of you who suggested I give it a try, this is now a go-to meal for me! I can eat 4 small shrimp at a time and they are lovely.
- Fairlife whole milk, generally 1 cup mixed with 1 cup of Starbucks blonde roast unsweetened cold brew coffee from the grocery store. This is my protein shake replacement, and it's doing its work really well for me - I wouldn't be hitting my protein goals without it.
- Oh Yeah / One bars. My favorite is the almond bliss, but I also liked the seasonal pumpkin pie one I tried, and the maple donut one.
- Quest Protein chips - these are actually kind of disgusting, but super easy for me to keep down. The ones that work best are salt & vinegar, because the flavoring is strong enough to kill the basic taste of the protein chip.
- Sometimes chili - this doesn't always work for me, but I'm super happy when it does
- Pacific Organic Creamy Tomato Soup - I salt it a lot and add some greek yogurt, and it's delicious.
I've also eaten a few "off plan" things - a bite here and there. Leah ordered chicken lo mein from my favorite chicken lo mein place a few nights ago, and I hate about two bites of it. It was great, and I wasn't tempted to overeat it. Mainly I ate the chicken and onions out of it, since that's what's best about it. I bought a 75% dark chocolate bar with almonds last week and I've been eating one square per day. I ate a corner of a roll at a work dinner the other day (probably the size of a quarter.) A few times when Leah has ordered out, I've stolen one or two of her mozzarella sticks - which are granted, 95% cheese, but also have some breading, so I don't know if they count as on-or-off plan. I'm trying to walk a delicate line between feeling like I can't ever have nice things, and backsliding. For what it's worth, I'm still keeping extremely low carb with just an occasional foray outside the lines, and I don't feel like I'm at risk right now. But I'm mentioning all of this here because I need to stay accountable to myself and to you guys, and because if my weight loss slows down, I'll know what to cut out first!
So that was the rough part, but I'm getting better. I would just say as a caution to any newbies reading this - don't think that just because you're ok eating something one day, you'll still be okay eating it the next! And a smooth start doesn't always guarantee a smooth journey. I mean, I'd say I'm doing GREAT, honestly - I'm a pretty happy camper in spite of this rough patch! But I wouldn't want anybody to feel like a rough patch is the end of the world. Don't catastrophize if you run into problems - just work through them! Preferably, with help from all the amazing veterans we have here literally at our fingertips.
Now, the fun part: NSVs!!!
There have been SO SO MANY NSVs LATELY! First - I went to the office the other day to say hi to our CEO (which isn't weird; I used to be her assistant, and we came out of it really good friends). She hadn't seen me since the day before my surgery, when I stopped in to tell her what I was doing the next day. She was so wonderful and complimentary, it was great. She hugged me, and demanded a picture, and said I was her hero and a rock star. She's the best!!! It made me feel awesome. I had dressed up and done the whole makeup routine and looked good.
Other people at the office were also super complimentary - those who knew about the surgery and those who didn't. I went to an off-campus meeting today and saw another co-worker I haven't seen in months, and she said, "Wow, Kio - whatever you're doing, keep doing it!" Plus, our cleaners were in today for the first time in too long, and they were excited about my new hair cut (and new glasses!) and said I looked great. These days it seems like everybody I see says something really nice!
Plus, there's the purely physical stuff. Things FIT - even dresses I bought a little tight last month are now loose on me. I've had to move all my rings to larger fingers; one of them only fits on my index finger now. I can wear necklaces now without feeling like I've put them on around a giant sausage neck. I'm still walking Sadie regularly, always around 1.5-2 miles. And just yesterday I discovered that I can WALK UP THE STAIRS TO OUR DECK. This is an amazing new and strange thing. I admit, I had to hold on to get to the first step because it higher than the others, and I was VERY wobbly on the next 4 steps, but I went up them without holding onto anything! I feel like going up stairs without holding on is something I should be able to do even now, at this weight - but it's been so long since I've been able to, it might take a bit of rehab work or PT to get there. Still, this was a huge victory for me!
And that's where I am right now - the State of Kio at the end of Month 3. I'm probably going to update more this month about vitamins and water, since those are my current challenges. And I honestly can't wait to see where I am at the end of month 4, and month 5, and month 6... Assuming I keep losing at a rate of around 15 per month, in 3 months I could be around 210. And THAT would be a number for the record books for me - the last time I was anywhere near 210 I was actually 212, and it was 1995...
Not from surgery - that would be crazy. But I'm 254 today, which is 101 down from my starting point in April! I lost 57 before surgery, and I've lost 43 since. And now I'm just over 100 away from my goal - which is my personal goal for myself, not my surgeon's goal. Trust me, he is a LOT more conservative. I think he'd be perfectly happy with.... I dunno, whatever 355 - (60% x (355-140)) is... ok it's 226. Once I wrote the formula I had to do the math. So right now, I'm not quite three months out, and 28 lbs away from my surgeon's "goal" weight for me.
But I am hunting bigger game than that. I mean, if I were to hit 226 and just... stop losing... I would survive that. I wouldn't be perfectly happy, but I'd be okay. I already feel so much better, it's hard to believe life was so hard and unpleasant just six months ago. I can walk a couple of miles without much pain or effort, when a couple of meters gave me pain back in April. I can fit into clothes that make me look... I don't know. NORMAL overweight, not crazy scary overweight like I was. I can shop in the higher sizes of normal stores now, I don't have to buy everything at Full Beauty (ugh, I hate that name). Most of my random day to day pain is gone. I don't huff and puff when I go in to the office, even though it's like half a mile from parking lot to elevator.
But I don't think 28 lbs more is going to get me where I want to be. I want to be able to go up stairs without holding on. I want to go to the gym and exercise and have people look at me and think "yeah she can lose some weight" instead of "what's SHE doing here, this gym is for normal people!" I want to go hiking in the Fells and bike to my office and do yoga. I don't think 226 is that weight for me.
Whether I can lose over 75 more pounds than my doc thinks I will.... I don't know. I'd need to lose 215 total to hit the goal in my profile and ticker, and that.... is a lot. Worth trying for, though! I mean, I'm almost halfway there now!
I did take some pictures yesterday when the scale dinged 100 down. But I realized that when I took my first set, they were ugh, without very much clothing. I never planned to share them online. So to make them match up I took yesterday's pictures in the same clothes and the same poses, and realized I'm still not going to post them online! Not yet anyway... maybe when I have some more milestones OUT FROM UNDER my belt. But I'm too shy to do it right now. SORRY, @CJireh!!!
Ok, so I offered, then @CJireh demanded, so here goes... my first photos on TT. Fair warning, the quality on these is pretty bad - I have always avoided being photographed for obvious reasons, and I take terrible selfies. There are a couple in here that were taken by Leah, but she's not exactly a star photographer herself. I think in each of those, I have my eyes closed.
Starting at my highest weight, around 350, about a year ago, here's a very blurry me Leah snapped when I was half asleep. Included to demonstrate the epic chin(s)!
The one below is from June of this year, at basically the same weight as the one above. You can see I've done this pixie thing before... however, at that time my head looked a bit like a white bowling ball with a crew cut! This is a Leah shot, so my eyes are closed, naturally. I had to use a version of this with my eyes open for an article in our company newsletter, which spotlights random employees at random times and was having a teleworker round - you can imagine how proud I was of sharing it with my 500 coworkers...
And this is me on September 8, 2017 - fresh out of surgery! I was about 298, and as you can see ... I was pretty high when this was taken! It was about two hours after surgery, I had already started walking, but I was banging on that morphine button pretty hard and pretty often. I was also having some kind of bad rash/reaction to the face wash they gave me to use before surgery.
You can also see in this one why I rarely smile big for pictures... it makes me look a like a total lunatic.
And now, here is me today! I'm 259 in this one, with my new shiny haircut and about a football field less chin.
And this one is a bit wider angle, still from today - proud of this one because look, I have a neck! And the beginning of some shoulders...
That's it for the headshots - but when I hit 100 lbs lost I plan to post some full length shots from the night before surgery and some new shots I'll take when the blessed day arrives.
UPDATED - Below are a couple of shots of me at 6 months -- 225 lbs, 39.something BMI. Just wanted to keep photos all in one place, for a better record. Again - I totally suck at photography, apologies for that! Also apologies that I didn't clean the mirrors in these photos before I started taking pictures... The first two are just headshots, and I don't see much difference between these and the one above (which is from 11 weeks after surgery).
And here's the full-length version I stole the "headshot" above from...
More updates in 3 months...
Just a quick update, since I haven't done one in a while. Things are going pretty well! My energy is high, my weight loss is on track, all good there.
My only complaint is that I've had some trouble with eating dense protein - I know I'm still very early out, but my nutritionist wants me getting most of my protein from real food right now, and that just... does not happen. I get by with some protein shakes and bars, and a lot of cheese, basically. Had about a week where I kept trying to eat more dense foods and failing.... so I dunno, maybe the time just isn't right for me yet. The problem came in when I tried to eat something, sat with it irritating my pouch for an hour, threw up, then couldn't eat for another couple of hours until I felt better. Those days I definitely didn't hit my protein goals, and my calories were super, super low. (I also couldn't figure out how to calculate the goal - did EVERYTHING come back up? What stayed down? How many grams? I decided in the end to throw up my hands and surrender - on days when I can't keep dense protein down, I'm not meeting my goals, and that's all I need to know. Now I've stopped trying to eat stuff like eggs and meat for a while, and life is a bit easier, goals are getting met... all good.
I did find some shrimp, peeled and de-veined but not cooked! I made three pieces and was able to keep THOSE down for about an hour... then not so much. I've got some salmon to try, which is not dense but still protein and real food, but I haven't been brave enough yet.
I also cut all my hair off! I'd show you guys a picture but my camera's in the other room. I started to see more hair in the shower drain, and figured I'd just get it over with. I have the pixiest of pixies right now, and since my face is starting to have an actual shape, it's not bad. The last time it was this short, I didn't feel cute at all. This time, I almost kind of do!
At this point I'm sooooo close to 100 lbs down I can feel it. I'm 259, which is the lowest weight I've been in about ten years. I lost 57 lb before surgery, and I've lost almost forty since surgery - hard to wrap my head around. I'm now smaller than my next-largest friend! Leah makes jokes about how she's going to kick my @*# now, while I still have one . It's true - the weight is coming off my butt like crazy. It's also coming off my face, my chin, my neck, my upper arms, my thighs... everywhere but my belly, really. I'm going to end up reeeeeally funny looking if that doesn't change soon!
Tonight I went for a long walk with Leah and the dog, and didn't hurt, and didn't have to stop halfway up any hills! After the walk, I felt a little tired, but not so tired I couldn't stand up and do dishes, wander the house, etc. No noodle legs! One thing I've found interesting about exercise is how hard it is for me to say yes to it. Every time Leah walks the dog, she asks if I want to come. I try to say yes most of the time, but it's difficult. I still FEEL like I can't do it. I feel like I'm going to get too tired, that I'm going to fall over, that I'm going to hurt too much. But then when I do say yes and go along... it's really quite easy. My brain and my heart just haven't caught up yet to the physical reality of what I can do now.
Now I'm off to bed, but I wanted to check in and let everybody know I'm okay and still on track.
I feel like it's been forever since I posted, but it was just a week ago. That probably says something about the kind of week it's been!
I haven't been exercising as much this week - well, ok, not really at all - because I've felt really tired a lot of the time. I thought it was just not sleeping enough - I can't seem to make it far past 6 hours a night this week, between one thing and another - or that I needed to return to CPAP. But this morning I woke up with a full blown cold, and it occurs to me I've probably been fighting it off for about a week now. My nose is stuffy, my throat hurts, and I've been so tired and brain fogged all day I actually called my boss at noon and told her I was shutting things down and going to bed. Which I did, and slept for about three hours.
But I miss you guys, so I wanted to post at least to say I'm still alive and still hanging in there. I'm in a bit of a stall, bouncing around between 270 and 269 all week. I haven't been getting enough protein or water this week, either, so that's probably related. Today, even though I'm feeling ugggghhhh, I've made significant progress on that score. 64 grams of protein so far, and I'm swilling tea by the bucket (with Premier vanilla protein shake mixed in).
I've also returned to tracking (MFP), since I feel like I have been off track all week, and I don't like the feeling. I haven't done anything terrible - I did not, for instance, eat an entire glazed donut, like that one lady in my Psych group! But I've had fried mozarella cheese sticks for dinner twice (two cheese stick limit) and while there's protein in there and not a TON of carbs, it's high in fat, and it's a trigger food, and I've felt ... I dunno, endangered, somehow.
This started when I saw my nutritionist last week. She was pretty adamant that I try to eat some carbs - not a ton, but just to not try to cut them out completely. I get up to around 25 g of carbs every day just incidentally from all the dairy I'm eating to get to my protein goals. But she thought I should try to have like, I dunno, half a small whole wheat tortilla or something once a day. She said the body prefers to burn carbs and will burn protein if there aren't enough carbs.
I've done keto long enough to know this is pretty much bullshit, but I figured... ok, I will add a FEW carbs in. And then I ate some mozarella sticks, because breading is just a few carbs, right? Clearly, my head is not quite in the right place when it comes to my trigger foods. I'm not going to do that again, and I've instructed Leah to bite my head off if I even suggest it (I usually eat dinner with her, so she'd know. ) Even so, I've been having probably around 700 calories a day or less... just not in quite the right macro ratio, since my protein has been low.
One thing I have found is lovely, has a couple extra carbs, and doesn't really trigger me, is refried beans on a half taco shell with cheese on top, baked in the oven till the cheese melts. So I'm happy to have found something NOT YOGURT to eat that goes down well, has protein, and doesn't make me want to eat more carbs. Maybe I'll tell the nutritionist about THAT next time I see her.
Halloween was pretty much awesome. We gave out full sized candy and the tiny vampires and ghosts and power rangers and princesses and pirates were all thrilled. Many parents mentioned the decorations, which I finished in a white heat yesterday just before dusk - one parent even asked permission to take pictures of her kids in front of our Pumpkin Door. I was super good - didn't touch the candy, wasn't even tempted, even though Leah and Meg snacked on it all night. And all the leftover candy went to work with Leah today, and stayed there, so our house is junk-free once again.
In terms of advancing my diet... I still haven't, much. I'm mostly eating the same kind of stuff I would have eaten in Stage 3, with a few Stage 4 intrusions. Like the half taco shell, and the breading on the mozzarella sticks. Mostly the protein bars - I've found they're usually super easy to eat. I mostly go with Quest, but I've tried a few Oh Yeah bars, and they were not bad (Key Lime and Cinnamon Roll). I still can't handle protein shakes straight, and there are some protein things that I have found just do not work - like those Quest Protein chips I mentioned in a post a while back. I've started thinking of these as "elevator foods" - in that they go down easy, and then they come right back up!
However, in spite of my worry, I probably don't have a stricture - my nutritionist agrees. I can eat solid food - just not all solid food. It's possible I've been eating too quickly, so I'm making a very conscious effort at putting food aside after a bite, then waiting, then having another bite. There's been less trouble since I started doing that - I just had a white meat chicken salad for dinner, for instance, and it's settled well.
In other news... I've been engaging in a weird mental/emotional exercise today. I've been re-reading blog entries from my friend who had GB back in 2008 and did not reach her goal weight. I'm not sure if I'm doing this as punishment for not meeting my goals, or to try to learn from it. Her surgery was 10 years ago, and I'm sure programs were different then, but it seems to me that she had a much harder time than I did immediately post-op. She was in the hospital for five days after surgery, and along the way she had some pretty severe vitamin deficiencies and a stricture. It's interesting to read it - both her experience up to 7 weeks, where I am, and long after. I know WLS is not something she regrets - I talked to her before I decided on it, and she said she'd be far worse off now without it than she is with it. But I also know she wishes it had gone better. In one of her pre-surgery entries she asked herself "will I be one of the people who fail?" and it was like an echo of myself two months ago. And I know she considers herself a person who failed it now, and that makes me scared that I will too... even though it's not logical, we're different people, we had surgery at different times, with different programs, etc.
Hopefully it will just turn out to be motivational.
... one step into the bathroom... Beware, vomiting story below!
After the successful potluck night, I've had a bad couple of days. Sunday night I tried something from stage 3 of my program, listed as a viable option "on the go" - I ordered a small chili from Wendy's for my dinner, since we'd been out shopping our socks off all day. When I got home, I took three, maybe four small spoonfuls ... and regretted it almost instantly. My stomach felt terrible, like - genuinely really terrible. I tried to sit with it for about half an hour to see if it would pass, then tried to throw up. But, I didn't manage to get all of it out... took another hour and another trip to the bathroom for that. After throwing up I felt a lot better, tried to get some water into me and then some liquid tylenol, and went to bed.
Monday I woke up and felt much better, so I started with an old favorite - two chicken meatballs! I've successfully eaten these several times, but yesterday was not one of those times. I had the exact same reaction as I did to the chili, only it lasted most of the day because I wasn't able to throw them up very easily. Two trips to the bathroom later, my stomach muscles were sore, and my pouch was empty, but it still felt terrible. I had Leah pick me up some sugar free popsicles on her way home from work, and one of them was dinner. I did feel like it calmed my stomach a little. I was able to drink some water before bed, but in all, Monday was a wash for both protein and fluids.
Today I'm feeling better, but being super careful. I've retreated back to stage 2 for the day - greek yogurt, popsicles, super soft cheese. So far so good!
Mainly I'm posting this to keep an accurate record - showing that this journey is all about hills and valleys when you start out. The weight loss is awesome, but so far, eating is always an adventure!
I'm 6 weeks out today - and down 27 lbs since surgery, 84 lbs overall. Today I landed at 271 on the scale, which is a big milestone for me - it's the lowest weight I ever achieved in Paleo adventure a couple of years ago. After this point back then, I stalled for a couple of months... and then, gave up in despair and started the inevitable climb back upwards. 271 today is also 10 lbs lost in month 2, and I'm only halfway through the month. So, there's a lot to feel good about. It took me 2 years to get to this weight on Paleo, btw. It's taken me since April of this year, this time.
I've also hit a CPAP milestone - in that I've stopped using it. I haven't worn it for the past three or four nights. I'd hit the point where I was sleeping less with it than without it, because the air pressure was so high. Nothing I did could stop the air from blasting out of my mouth, and I kept waking up in a panic with my mouth so dry I couldn't swallow. Leah is monitoring me for snoring, I'm staying off my back, and I haven't felt sleepy during the days. So I think that's going pretty well so far.
Yesterday we had our potluck dinner, and it was pretty successful! Leah made lasagna and cheesy broccoli/cauliflower casserole, Meg made a caesar salad and brought potato chips, and our friends brought roasted brussels sprouts, some kind of crazy bean salad, and an apple cake. I took a saucer instead of a big plate, and picked out a tiny sliver of lasagna (from which I removed the noodles and gave them to the dog; my portion was probably about 2 tablespoons of meat/cheee/sauce), a piece of broccoli, a piece of cauliflower, and one sprout. No one asked me any questions about my portion sizes, even though none of them knew I'd had RNY. They knew I was recovering from some kind of surgery, just not what kind. It took me about as long to eat my tiny portion as it did for them to eat their giant ones! Still not over that. Everything was great, and I was thrilled that I managed to eat actual vegetables.
Later, when dessert came out, I took a tiny bite of the apple cake, but passed on the mounds of pumpkin and vanilla ice cream. Leah actually cut a little piece off her apple cake for me - and then I halved that, and gave the other half to Sadie. (The dog may gain weight now, but better her than me My bite was probably about half a tablespoon. It was lovely, but I didn't really want or need more of it.
It was so awesome to be eating somewhat regular food! The lasagna meat sauce was made with ground beef, and I didn't have any trouble with it. The brussels sprout could have benefited from salt and garlic, but it was still nice and caramelized. I was only able to eat the outside leaves; the inside was too fibrous. I liked the broccoli better than the cauliflower - probably because the broccoli was softer. I feel like I did really well last night - tried some new things, but stayed on my plan. Later in the evening I had some cheese and yogurt, to hit my protein goals. But...
I keep having these anxiety dreams/nightmares about screwing up. One night I dreamed I ate a donut (this is totally because of that chick in my nutrition group who did that, I'm sure!) and then realized, halfway through the second donut, that I wasn't supposed to be eating it. It was like suddenly I remembered I had WLS and couldn't eat like that anymore. I felt this vast sadness and despair... and at the same time, I knew I was going to finish that second donut. It was really really awful.
Last night, I dreamed I ate half a can of Pringles before remembering I wasn't supposed to do that anymore. I can't remember what I did after that in the dream, but I had the same sense of sadness and failure, a certainty that I'd ruined everything. I think THIS was because of that one bite of apple cake. I've posted before about being worried I'd slide down a slippery slope - I'm sure a single bite of apple cake is NOT the start of a slippery slope, at least my conscious brain is sure, but my subconscious has possibly missed that memo.
I'm hoping as I gain more confidence in my ability to stick to my program, the nightmares will fade out. For now, I'm just grateful that these are dreams I wake up from, and not a nightmare I'm living through anymore!
Hard to believe almost 6 weeks gone since surgery! It feels like it happened yesterday. But here I am - done with all my "special" diet periods and into my permanent Stage 4 as of yesterday! Not that I've actually eaten anything reserved for Stage 4 yet - I'm still mostly eating the same old stuff. Chicken (dark meat because it's easier), cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese... I've started eating cottage cheese with fruit in it, so that's something! And the occasional protein bar, though it takes me two separate meals to eat just one. Plus, they're almost not worth the trouble - Sadie (the doggo) likes them better than I do, and she is a dedicated beggar. (Same with the cheese, really...)
Some things reserved for Stage 4 include steak, ground beef... basically any meat that isn't chicken, and all shellfish. Other things like pasta, doughy bread, rice, are not precisely forbidden, but not encouraged. And I'm planning to avoid all of them anyway. (Funny story: Leah had cheese and whole wheat crackers yesterday for her very nutritious dinner. After she was done there was like, a crumb of cracker with a bit of cheese on it on her plate, and I very daringly ate it. I felt ready to join a biker gang after that - I was living dangerously! That cracker crumb was my first solely carb food since surgery.)
What I'm actually looking forward to - what I'm going to try tonight - is a meal consisting of more than one food item. A friend is coming over this evening, and she's making Indian butter chicken; we are supplying broccoli. I'm going to eat at least one tiny broccoli crown alongside the chicken if it kills me. I know it's a weird thing to be craving, but broccoli was a staple in my pre-op weight loss plan, and I really miss it! Plus, fiber. Fiber is good!
In other news, I'm doing pretty well here in month two. I'm just a week or so in, and I've lost 8 lbs (down to 273 \o/). I've been doing a ton of walking - in fact, yesterday I totally overdid it:
I know that can't compete with what some of you people are doing, but that is definitely the longest time and distance I've been on my feet since I was like... ten. I was inspired by my new sneakers, which arrived at around 2pm - they're Scarpa approach sneakers, and they feel awesome - they're so comfortable! Definitely the best walking shoes I've ever owned. (Link: https://www.amazon.com/Scarpa-Womens-Crux-Approach-Shoe/dp/B00S1GWK5S. They're a little hot pink, nothing to be done about it, but I still found them worth it. Leah has had a pair for a year now and she loves hers too.)
One thing that is becoming harder and harder for me to deal with is not knowing whether I'll have dumping syndrome. I just really want to know! I'm not sure why I'm obsessing about this; maybe I just want to know if it's a crutch I can lean on if/when head hunger gets the best of me. But the only way to test it out is to eat something with sugar, and I don't even know how much sugar I would need to eat, and what if that triggered a craving? I don't want to risk it. But I want to know! Ugh. Curiosity kills the Kio, they say - right?
Beyond that curiosity, I haven't had any trouble resisting things that are bad for me. Mostly I'm just trying to get in enough protein each day. In spite of an interesting meal where I ate 5.3 oz of cottage cheese (my guess is I ate it so slowly part of it had digested before I finished), I still have trouble getting in more than 2-3 oz of food at a time normally. I can't handle the shakes anymore - they're just gross, far too sweet and I'm so sick of them I can't stand it, plus they are now hit or miss in terms of whether they stay down or come back up. That means I'm forced into many small meals throughout the day to get what I need without getting "full". 2 oz of yogurt here, 2 oz of cottage cheese there, an egg over here... half a protein bar over there.... And in between I have to drink, drink, drink to get my water in. So with all that going on, plus three calcium chews a day... I feel like I am constantly putting something in my stomach. It would be awesome if some of it could be a vegetable now and then... but I know the pouch will loosen up a bit eventually and I'll be able to eat them eventually! (If you all knew me before surgery, you'd laugh at me mourning vegetables... so not the type!)
In non-weight loss news, I've also been doing a lot of decorating, and pre-decorating, for Hallowe'en. Hallowe'en is kind of a big deal around my house! It's not even about food - it's 100% about putting on a good show for the kids in the neighborhood. Every year I make window decorations for all the front windows (6 of them) and the front door. This year I'm also doing the back doors (2 french doors) and carving a pumpkin. And we're having a potluck for a bunch of friends on Saturday, so I need everything done by then, and it all needs to look as good inside as it does outside. So there's a LOT to do.
I'll close this out with a sample of this year's lower front windows - the only ones I've done so far:
I'm particularly fond of the spider. And I kind of like the inside better than the outside for this one.
Now that I'm out of my first month, I'll probably just be blogging when something feels post-worthy, or when I need to get something out of my head and onto the page. I've found that as I recover, and as I get further out from surgery, I'm a little less hyperfocused on every aspect of what's happening to my body and what I put into it. For one thing, it's harder to stay that way - as the first few weeks pass and you start to feel more normal, you head back to work. And there are holidays to plan, and the dog gets sick, and there are people coming over, and life just starts becoming life again.
Which isn't to say I'm not paying attention. I am! In five days I can try to eat... basically whatever I feel like trying. It's kind of exciting! And it's also kind of scary. I feel like I've been more focused on the scary part, the last few days. I've said this a few times before... but the more my choices open up, the more I worry about making bad choices. I think it's party because I don't really know what bad choices look like.
For instance: Before surgery, when I'd basically given up on ever losing weight and being healthy, I planned my days around junk food. How much of it I had, how quickly I could get access to it, how long it would last, whether I could finish eating it before Leah got home. This was kind of an ongoing bad choice. A terrible choice. But it's where I was, and I want to be honest about it.
But that's not the kind of thing I'm going to do NOW. Post-surgery, I feel like my potential bad choices are different. My pre-surgery bad choices were made at rock bottom; I feel like any post-surgery bad choices I make are at the very top of a high, slippery slope.
I've read a lot of posts lately about how people are managing their mental game when it comes to food. Many have said they don't deny themselves anything entirely - they just eat much less of things, maybe only a bite or a few bites. Or they plan the event so it doesn't have a great impact on the day's macros. But I'm afraid of that right now. I'm afraid that if I have a few bites of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving day, I'll wake up the next morning at 355 lbs again with bags of chips scattered all around me. Rationally, I know I'm capable of eating a few bites of pumpkin pie without deteriorating into a binge - and in fact that at this point I'm not even capable of binging. But what if two bites of pie at Thanksgiving turns into a spoon of ice cream a few days later, and a few pieces of chocolate a few days after that, and a week later a small bag of M&M's, and and and and and... ?
So while I agree that in the long run, saying "I can never have X" is not just as dangerous as eating around your surgery on the regular would be, I think I personally need to hold off on X until I'm more confident in my ability to handle it with brains and moderation. Maybe that means no pumpkin pie (or whatever) until I hit goal and maintain for a while (assuming I DO hit goal... who knows.)
In the meantime, I'm just eating what I know works for me. Today was interesting, though - it was a day without yogurt! I haven't had one of those in quite a while. Instead, here's what I ate today:
Half a 32 oz iced decaf from Dunkin, with a chocolate protein shake poured in (30 g protein)
3 oz chicken dark meat (21 g protein)
2 oz "taco" leftovers, basically ground turkey with taco spices, a little cheese on top (around 10 g protein)
1 Quest protein bar, divided into two "meals" (20 g protein)
I did really well on protein, which is not weird considering it was one of my busiest post-surgery days yet. I saw my dermatologist in the morning, then went to the office for about an hour and chatted with people, then came home to collect a urine sample from my dog (she's been having some issues) and take it to the vet, then after I got home from the vet I decided she actually had to be seen today because she looked so uncomfortable and unhappy - so I went back to the vet with the dog. Then later Leah and I went to the pharmacy to get the meds prescribed at my dermatologist visit from the morning. I felt like I was on the go almost constantly. So yay me!
So today was weird - this is the one issue I have with my program. They keep making follow-up appointments for me, and nowhere in the appointment notice does it mention it's a GROUP appointment. So I went in today all ready to see the psych individually, and there were five other people there. Wheeeeeee.
I mean, I would have gone anyway - I just would have been mentally prepared for group speaking. Instead I was probably giving off all bristle-vibes.
Anyway! It was still pretty interesting. There was one guy there who believed in his heart he knew how to do post-op better than anyone else. He was full of sort of vague platitudes about inner strength and whatnot and WOULD NOT BE QUIET. Then, there was a nice woman who looked like she had surgery a year ago - totally normal weight - who actually had it about two months ago.
In fact, everyone there was about two months out from surgery, except for me - and everyone there was a sleever, except for me!
Almost everyone there talked about how much they can eat - they can all down about three to four ounces of solid food at a time now? Me, not so much. I can eat one ounce of something solid, or two, MAYBE three ounces of something soft. And some of them are getting hungry already. I'm still not ever hungry.
One thing that shocked me was all the normal food people were talking about eating. Maybe it's because I'm a month behind all of them, but even so... there were choices I don't think I'll be making for a while. People were talking about eating pizza, or canned soup, just as a matter of course. The woman who looked like she'd never even NEEDED surgery said she got really mad at her coworkers last week and on the way home she ate an entire glazed donut.
I was just like - BUH? You are TWO MONTHS out from surgery!! First, there is no way in the world I could actually eat an entire donut at this point - maybe a donut hole? But - WHY WOULD YOU? I mean - I get being angry, and I was totally an emotional eater before surgery. But even I have the discipline to hold off longer than two months before succumbing to donuts, I think.
Don't get me wrong - I know eventually we're supposed to be able to enjoy a little bit of whatever we want - in moderation, and after our protein. And I can forsee a day when I screw up and eat something totally off plan, in a disordered way. But that day I think would need to be far in the future, when I have more distance from all the changes and all the learning I'm going through right now. So - to just go out and deliberately self-sabotage NOW, when all the instructions and warnings and appointments must be totally fresh in her mind...??? I don't know, I guess I was just really surprised.
The biggest positive I got out of the meeting was when the doc passed around bags of calcium chewables - different from the ones I've tried so far. These were Bariatric Advantage, and they were pretty good. I think I'll order those next, because I'm not too keen on Celebrate.
And that's it for today! Just to wrap up - I hit my protein goals, hit my water goal, did 45 minutes of outside walking with Leah and the dog, and now I'm off to bed.
Oh, and I broke out of the 280's - 279 today!
...basically, nothing new to report! I'm still doing really well, just now starting to settle into my life a little better. I have some worries - am I eating too much, too little, the wrong kinds of things? I'm thinking about posting a "normal day" menu soon for some feedback. But for now, I'm just gearing up for tomorrow's post-op psych appointment! I'll report back after.
Today is officially one month out from surgery - and as promised, I have brought some charts. Three, to be exact.
First, to get it out of the way, I DID MAKE IT to 281 today! Kind of an arbitrary number, right? But since I'm 5'3", that puts me just under a BMI of 50 for the first time in years. 49.8! Since surgery, not counting water weight from the hospital, I've lost exactly 17 lbs.
So, Chart #1: Weight loss over time. Pretty much what it says on the tin - this shows my weight loss between my surgery date and today.
That abrupt jump upwards between 9/8 and 9/9 is the extra 11 lbs of water I picked up in the hospital. I didn't get back to my pre-surgery weight until the 16th!
Chart #2: Gains/losses each day in relation to my monthly cycle. I've arbitrarily chosen to give non-period days a value of 4 and period days a value of 5, just to make the chart easier to read.
The gain/loss line in orange is a little tricky, because the gains are negative and losses are positive numbers. You can tell by the spike between the 8th and the 9th of september - it shows as -11 but represents that 11 lb water gain from surgery. As you can see, it's pretty clear that I lose a lot of weight during my period. I started my period at 293, and it ended on 9/25 at 285. Then it bumped back up a pound or two - which I suspect was my body starting to retain water again. The weight loss after my period is much more gradual. My theory here is that the water retention masks the fat loss until my period hits - then the water weight comes off, and my "true" weight is at the bottom of that drop.
That weight loss pattern is pretty familiar to me from previous weight loss attempts, so it wasn't very surprising. But this next one I thought was really interesting - it's the first time I've ever tracked these stats together.
Chart #3: Losses and gains tracked against sleep.
Especially at the beginning of this chart, there's a pretty clear correlation between the amount of sleep I get and the amount of weight I lose, day by day. There's a lot written about how important sleep is for weight loss - and this basically confirms it in my particular case, most of the time. When I'm getting more sleep, my daily losses are bigger. When I'm getting less, they're smaller. I think there's probably at least a little derangement of the data in early September, because it's so close to my surgery date and so much water had to come off, so I'm interested in seeing what the next few months look like.
Life sometimes gets busy, and tracking will get harder to keep up with - but I'm going to keep these updated for as long as I can, because I'm sort of fascinated by the kinds of things that affect weight loss.
For what it's worth, I do also have charts tracking my losses/gains against how much water I drank that day and against how many carbs I had that day. But the only possible correlation I found was a slight tendency to have greater losses when I was in the range of 25-35 carbs per day - more or less carbs than that seemed to correlate to less weight lost on the following days. Water, weirdly, seemed to have zero effect on my losses.
Briefly, in other news: Today was a perfect day. I got all my water and protein in, with half the protein coming from food and only half from a shake (watered down with decaf coffee - I seem to have no trouble with Premier shakes if they're mixed with something more watery.) I got plenty of sleep. I ate chicken (mostly dark meat) and survived. I was really looking forward to my egg, over-easy, but something went wonky halfway through and I had to stop eating it. But it was yummy while it lasted. I also got in all my vitamins and all my meds, AND I CLOSED ALL THREE RINGS on the apple watch today. It was my longest stretch on the treadmill yet - 41 minutes, all at about 1.7 mph, none of it holding on to the rails or the desk. Considering that three months ago I would be hard pressed to just stand up for 10 minutes without pain, I think I'm doing great there.
I've also noticed that my burping/hiccuping problem has mostly passed. I still burp and hiccup as a sure sign that I need to stop eating right away - even if I haven't gotten in as much as I planned or as much as I was able to yesterday or whatever. But it passes quickly as soon as I stop eating.
My next doctor milestone is coming up - my post-op visit with my psychologist is on Tuesday. I really liked this guy when I met him for my initial psych eval, so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing him again. And that's a wrap for tonight! Sleep good, thinnertimes world!
So I'm almost a month post-op now, and since that's a time for checking in on goals and measuring progress, I figured it would be a good time to look at my pre-op list of things I wanted to be able to do. I'm happy to report I can already do three of the things from my list!
5) Park far away from things. I can park hella far away from my office, walk all the way to the building and up to the 5th floor and all over the office - without stopping in the lobby to rest so nobody sees me turning bright red and huffing and puffing.
6) Shopping! While I haven't been clothes shopping yet, I have done so much more grocery shopping than I did before surgery. Not necessarily because I need the groceries (though buying one ounce of everything is a lot of work) - but mostly just because I can. Tonight Leah and I went to Whole Foods, wandered around the store for half an hour grabbing stuff, then went to Shaw's for kitty litter and poster board (I'm on deck for Halloween decorations at our house every year, and this is a staple). When I got out of the car, Leah was surprised. "You're coming in??" she asked. Because I can't carry the kitty litter yet - I'm not yet released to lift heavy things - and usually if I'm not paying for something at a story I'm not going IN to the store - I would get tired and be in pain. NOT SO TONIGHT. I went in just for the sheer enjoyment of being able to go in and move around. It was NICE!
7) Stand around chatting with people at the office. After I park far away from the office and get upstairs, I can absolutely just hang out in someone's office doorway and chat with them for ten or fifteen minutes, without needing to sit down, or being in terrible pain. Or any pain! I just stand there! It's awesome.
And while this isn't on my list, I've found that with extra exercise comes easier exercise. My previous top speed on our treadmill desk (1.5 mph) is now my "slow-down-and-rest" speed. My current top speed is 2 mph - and climbing! I can do 2 mph for most of a half hour workout. For the first time ever yesterday, I closed the green ring on my apple watch (30 min workout with a high enough heart rate). I closed the pink one too, but I'd missed the blue one (stand goal) by ONE MEASELY HOUR. Thanks to being on an IV, so not necessarily my fault, but I was still annoyed.
Another super cool achievement: Smaller clothes! My still-big-but-smaller-than-me friend Meg brought over a bag clothes she doesn't wear, and we figured maybe a month from now I would fit into some of them. I took them out of the bag to put them away this morning, and started trying on some of the things I liked. They fit! And then I tried on other things... and they ALSO fit. Eventually I had tried it all on and ALL of it fits! These are 18/20 bottoms and 22/24 tops, and my friends... I have been wandering around in 30/32 tops and bottoms because I didn't think I'd lost enough weight to move down a size yet. I wore one of the sweaters today and when my nurse showed up, she said she thought it was a little BIG on me. !!! !!! !!! She also wants me to text her my weight a week before our next visit (5 weeks from now) because she thinks they'll need to recalibrate the dosage for my infusion. So there's that.
And finally - inspired by @NerdyLady, I pulled out some of the rings I wear occasionally when I go into the office. I have a fairly nice, delicate gold claddagh ring and my mom's gold university class ring, both of which mean a lot to me for various reasons. Previously, the claddagh was a tight fit on my ring finger and a no-go on my middle fingers. Now it fits my ring finger verrrry loosely and my middle finger just a bit too tightly. My mom's class ring... is actually going to be a problem soon. I used to be able to wear it on either ring finger - securely, though it was a bit loose. Now I can only wear it securely on my index finger.
Ok, so that wasn't final... I also wanted to mention a few of the things I thought and worried about before surgery, and how they've turned out so far:
1) "I'm crossing my fingers that I'll turn out to be a plan-following, quick-losing, no-nausea-having, minimal-pain-having success story this time next year." Well, it's not next year yet, but at one month out I can say: So far, so good!
2) "what are the first few minutes like when you wake up?" Super painful! I was not expecting that. But then, if you're a newbie reading this, keep in mind that they deliberately woke me up really soon because I have sleep apnea; they wanted me awake and breathing really quick. The only pain that didn't fade immediately after my first hit of morphine was throat pain from the intubation, which actually took about two weeks to go away completely.
3) "Am I going to be one of those people who has no significant pain post-op?" Yes! "One of those who has agony?" Nope! At least not for more than a minute after waking up. "One of those who can't keep anything down, or one of those who never feel any restriction?" No and no. I have had VERY little nausea at all, and I do now feel restriction when trying to eat more solid foods. "Will I have dumping syndrome?" I don't know yet, but I'm kind of dying to find out. I'm just scared to eat something that might cause it. "Will I be a slow loser or a quick loser?" Jury's still out. Does 17ish lbs in the first month count as slow, or quick? Or somewhere in the middle? "Will I have a stricture?" Not so far, though I thought I did for about a minute. Turns out my stomach just sometimes really doesn't like Premier protein shakes. "Iron-deficiency?" Not so far, but it would take longer than a month to show up. "Will I never feel hunger or food-interest again like some people report?" I don't know about never, but I haven't felt hunger so far. I'm interested in food - I still like eating food that tastes good. But I don't eat because of that, or because of hunger. I eat because I need to hit my protein goals. "Or will I be one of those people who feels hungry immediately after surgery?" Happy to report a no on that one! "Will things taste and smell the same, or will I find I don't like stuff I used to like? Will my sense of smell go off the charts?" I haven't noticed any change in the way things taste to me, and my sense of smell is dead normal.
So that's my big introspective end-of-month post; tomorrow will be my big weight update/charts post.
Nothing really stands out to me about yesterday, which is probably why it was so easy to just fall asleep without getting around to posting my daily update.
Today is day 27, and so far only a few things of note. I'm less inclined to think I have a stricture, since I am able to eat meat (in the form of chicken meatballs) but the Premier Protein shakes are still hit or miss unless diluted. I'm also able to eat: Cheese, Greek yogurt, Ricotta, hummus, and small pieces of very moist chicken. I don't know why I'm so resistant to just going out and buying a different kind of shake. Maybe it's because Premier has worked SO well for SO long, it's hard to believe it's failing me. Or maybe I'm holding on because it has SO much protein for such a small quantity of liquid - when they work, they are a huge help in hitting my goals. Whatever it is, I need to get over it and buy some shakes that my stomach will actually allow through the lower gates!
Also notable today - it was a pretty full day of work, and I was fine. I managed 2 chicken meatballs instead of just the one I've previously been able to get down, then later some greek yogurt, and now some babybel cheese. Still working on my water, and will likely BE working on that straight through till bedtime.
Today is also an IVIG day. Every 6 weeks I get an IV infusion of immunoglobulin for my autoimmune condition - 4 hours on an IV for two consecutive days. I've got an IV in my arm as I type, and have about twenty minutes to go before I'm done. A home health nurse has to be here for the whole infusion, but I like her a lot, and when I told her a few months ago I was going to have RNY, she told me she'd had it back in 2007! So she knows exactly what I'm going through, what to check for, etc, and is a great source of information. Plus, she gives me my B12 injections, so I don't have to do it myself. It means I'm always about 2 weeks late on them, but my B12 levels are fine this way, so I'm not too worried about it.
My big experiment this week was yesterday - I made tomato soup! And it was all going well, until I added the unflavored whey protein isolate powder. It didn't affect the taste, but it DID make the soup a big grainy, instead of velvety smooth as it should be. I used 2 cups of Fairlife whole milk instead of 1 cup of heavy cream - to cut the acidity a bit, and to up the protein content. But unfortunately, when all was said and done, the protein content per serving (3 oz) was sooooo very low that I can't in all honesty say it's a source of protein at all. Still, without the powder it will work great as a soup, and is healthier than just the cream - I'll just have to reserve it as a sometimes kind of thing, not a staple. Here's the recipe, in case anyone is interested:
One 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes with basil
5 cans (of 5.5 oz each) of Campbell's 100% pure tomato juice
(Add both of these to a large pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat to cool slightly, then puree to silky smoothness with whatever you use for that - I use a Cuisinart hand blender/magic wand. Return to stove and reheat.)
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
2 cups of Fairlife whole milk
(Chop the stick of butter into smaller chunks for easy melting; add them to the soup. Then stir in the milk slowly, a little at a time, until both butter and milk are incorporated.)
Salt and/or pepper to taste (though I have never found this soup to need either; it has a nice tomato-y zing all its own).
Prep time takes about 10 minutes, mostly opening of cans; cook time is about 40 minutes, 30 or so of which are unattended.
Finally - I'm getting very close to the one month mark! I plan to count my months by my surgery date - so from 9/8 to 10/7 will be my first month. At this moment, I'm sitting on 16 lbs of weight loss for the first month if I DON'T count the water weight I gained while in the hospital. If I DO count that, it's more like 27 lbs - but I can't really think of that as official. IVIG is a very hydrating process, so I'm expecting my weight to either go up a pound or stay the same today and tomorrow - but of course I won't know until the 7th what my final official number is.
On the 7th, I'll post a chart of my weight day by day for the first month.
I made it to the office today - am awesome, clearly. I had to park waaaaaaaaaaay out in the boondocks and, which was very good for my step totals today. Chatted for about an hour with my grand-boss, and then another hour with my boss, and then went to a couple of meetings. One of the meetings was a farewell lunch for a departing (to another department) colleague - and I didn't even look at the food. Kind of a victory, except...
The reason I wasn't interested at all in the food was, I was so uncomfortable from yet another protein shake failure. I figured I'd be smart about my protein today - I planned ahead. I brought a vanilla shake with me, drank a little more than a third of it on the way to Dunkin Donuts, and got a large iced decaf coffee. Then I poured about half the coffee out and replaced it with the rest of the vanilla shake - it made a pretty decent vanilla latte. Only that first third of the shake sat in my Gremlin (which is what I have named my pouch; thanks @BurgundyBoy!) like glue. By the time I got to the luncheon, I was barely able to sip at the "latte". My boss - who is awesome - kept giving me significant looks about not drinking, and I finally excused myself to the bathroom and said fairwell to the Gremlin's contents. After that I felt much better - and the much-diluted coffee-shake was easy to drink.
I'm kind of sad the lunch went down like that, because my grand-boss had made an effort to order stuff she knew I would be able to eat. There were refried beans, and a chicken salad. I couldn't even think about solid food though. And when the cake came out, my interest in it was absolutely nil. (Funny though - my great-grand-boss, who has also had some form of WLS in the past two years, probably sleeve, leaned over and whispered to me, "I kind of want to put that whole thing in my face!" )
After that there was one other meeting, and I was about to escape afterwards when my boss pulled me aside and said they had a welcome-back gift for me. And it was seriously the MOST PERFECT GIFT! A great card saying the whole team supported me 100% and wished me the best, and inside - a $140 gift card to Old Navy! I was so moved by this - my team is seriously fantastic. I seriously plan to work there till I drop in my traces. I've been with this company seven years now, and they're the best.
Anyway, back at home I ate some hummus, because I needed SOME nutrition and it's been pretty reliable. Then drank the rest of my "latte", and then much later ate some greek yogurt. I was feeling pretty terrible about meeting my goals today, but it turns out I didn't do too bad. I'm sitting at 40 grams of protein right now, 450 calories (thanks, Hummus!) and 64 oz of water. Plus, I did 30 minutes on the treadmill (10, then later 20) and got eight hours of sleep last night.
Still... I'm thinking about calling my surgeon's PA tomorrow. I haven't been reliably getting in my protein. And any time I eat or drink, I feel like I spend the next twenty minutes burping or hiccuping, and the hiccuping is painful. Not like surgery-damage painful - just the same painful hiccups always are - but still. The burping isn't a great sensation, either. I may need to either get scoped, or ... I don't know, maybe just move back to Stage 3a for a while.
My eating strategy for tomorrow is basically to drink enough Fairlife whole milk to hit 30 grams of protein - as a stand-in for my shake. I may mix in some unsweetened cocoa and stevia to make it hot chocolate. Later, I'm going to make some tomato soup with Fairlife whole milk instead of cream, and blend some unflavored protein into it serving by serving. And then at the end of the day, I may try to eat a slice of chicken lunch meat, or possibly one of the chicken meatballs that went down okay before (but in a lot more marinara than the first time.)
Down another pound today, so there's that.
Day 23 was uneventful! Nothing very interesting to say.
Day 24, today, is my back to work day. But since my team is great and my commute is nonexistent, basically I wandered downstairs, went through my email, and did maybe half an hour of work. The rest of the time I messed around online - and I have to say, you guys don't post NEARLY enough to keep me entertained through a work day. Tomorrow I have to actually go to the office for some meetings - only a couple of hours, but one of them is a lunch for a departing colleague. That's going to be interesting...1
In an attempt to do better at getting my water in, I started the day with 11 oz of decaf coffee with some Fairlife for cream, then did 17 oz of water, and only then tried to eat. But even after that, I kind of sucked at getting the rest of the water in. I'm finishing another 16 oz now, and will try to get a little more in before I go to sleep, but I'm afraid that's going to be it.
I didn't do well with protein, either. I started off with 1/3 cup of refried beans (trying to get some fiber!) with a little cheese and greek yogurt on top. I managed to eat MAYBE a third of that, so little I didn't even feel it was worth doing the math. I compensated with a premier chocolate shake later, and this went down okay for a change, so I got to 30 grams. Then I ate an ounce of chicken from Leah's stir fry, and.... so far that's it. A day of fail on the protein front.
The problem I'm having is one of timing. It takes me a long time to actually eat or drink something. I start to feel uncomfortable right away from burping so much, so I pause a long time between tiny bites or sips, and it takes forever to get stuff down. Then I have to wait 30 minutes to drink, and then I try to spend an hour drinking. And then I try to eat again... but I'm running out of time in the day. I could eat something NOW, but I don't really like eating just before bed. The internet tells me the constant burping will eventually pass, but... it hasn't yet.
I went down another pound today, so that's nice. Since I first met with my surgeon, I've gone from a BMI of 60 to a BMI of 50. I had to call my PA today to find out if I could just stop taking Lovenox when I ran out, or if I needed to taper it off - just stop taking it was the answer, btw, but keep moving - and she said she was really impressed with my progress. I am too!
And on the keep moving front, I did half an hour on the treadmill, part of it at 2mph. Faster than I've ever gone. And I wasn't even holding on!
Just a quick dinner update - I had a brutal night last night, and I'm tiiiiiired. Feeling much better today though.
Dinner at Bonefish Grill went well, all things considered. In retrospect I should have just ordered off-menu - they probably would have just made me a small piece of fish or something with some sauce on it. I did think about the soup, but it was just clam chowder, and I figured it would have wheat flour in it - which I have always avoided. I thought about the crab cakes, too, but they had bread crumbs in them and 1) wheat flour and 2) breads and flours are a stage 4 food.
So I ordered a regular entree, the baja fish tacos. I knew it would be way more than I could eat. I did NOT realize it would be the size of my HEAD. The amount of food was just astonishing, and I ended up eating a tiny piece of cod no bigger than my pinky finger. Even with lime juice, and some of the lime crema sauce that came with, it was kind of dry - and it sort of sat in my pouch like lead. I felt super full super fast, on far less food than my usual 1/3 cup of ricotta or yogurt or whatever. It did go down, but it seemed to take a looooong time. And it didn't taste great - just sort of bland and woody. I'm hoping it was just overcooked, or cooked in a way that didn't work for my special needs - otherwise my tiny portions of frozen fish in the freezer will go to waste. Leah ordered the surf & turf with crab cakes. I ate a tiny bite of the crab cake, and instantly regretted that I hadn't chosen them, bread crumbs be damned. It was really nice.
She and Meg both ordered the pumpkin creme brulee for dessert, too. When they came to the table I was actually shocked at how huge they were. Big slabs of creme brulee in bowls the size of a grown man's hand, including fingers, with a scoop of whipped cream on top. Because what the hell is pumpkin creme brulee, I stole what I can't even call a "bite" of Meg's - I sort of dipped the edge of my spoon into it and licked it - and it tasted good, but it in no way called to me to have more. (If you're wondering, it tasted basically like pumpkin pie.)
TL;DR - Overall, it was successful in that I went out, I ate food, I survived! But the food wasn't to my taste, didn't make my new stomach very happy, and isn't something I will be having again. And I felt actual restriction for the first time, just like you guys all said I would when I was eating solid protein - so there's that! Either I have a super tiny pouch, or I still have a lot of swelling in there. I doubt very seriously that was 2 full ounces of fish.