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...